Neutrinos caught being exotic
The elusive, exotic neutrino has been observed while in the process of changing from a muon neutrino into an electron neutrino. This confirmation of the neutrino’s behavior matches that predicted by the Standard Model of physics. Data gathered by this latest experiment may lead to greater understanding of antimatter, and why we detect so much more matter than antimatter in the observable universe.
Three different types of neutrinos are predicted by the Standard Model. The types are known as flavors of neutrinos and are called electron, muon and tau. To conduct recent T2K experiment, physicists in Japan fired a stream of muon neutrinos more than 180 miles at near-light speeds to bombard a neutrino detector named Super-Kamiokande.
This experiment has resulted in the observation of muon neutrinos becoming electron neutrinos. This was determined when the physicists were able to detect that there were an average of 22.5 electron neutrinos striking the dectector. This leads to the conclusion that some of the muon neutrinos had vibrated to become electron neutrinos, because if no changes had happened, only 6.4 electron neutrinos would have been observed by the monitor.
This oscillation metamorphosis was first noticed in 2011, but it was not confirmed until this recent occurrence that the increase of observed electron neutrinos was not due to probability. Now that a sufficient amount of observations have been recorded, scientists know statistically that the odds of this size increase being purely chance are not even one in a trillion.
The observation of neutrinos changing flavors will be used to help determine if neutrinos behave differently then anti-neutrinos. A similar experiment will be conducted using a beam of anti-neutrinos. If the results differ, the broken symmetry between neutrinos and their anti-matter counterparts may be part of the explanation of why the observable universe consists mostly of matter, instead of equal parts matter and anti-matter.