IceCube Search For The 4th Type Of Neutrino, One Of the Universe's Ingredients, Not Found

First Posted: Aug 10, 2016 05:23 AM EDT

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory had failed to find the hypothetical sterile neutrino, which was supposed to be the fourth type next to three types of neutrino namely the muon, electron and tau. In the past few decades, there was a hint that the particle existed. On the other hand, in the current study, no evidence was found of the existence of the said particle. This finding is very significant in the world of physics.

The study was printed in the Physical Review Letters. The study was investigated by Francis Halzen, Professor of Physics at University of Wisconsin-Madison and the principal investigator for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory and many other colleagues.

Neutrinos are also referred to as ghostly particles. They are tiny and almost massless particles that travel at near light speeds. They are difficult to find. They are born from violent astrophysical events such as exploding stars and gamma ray burst. Neutrinos are one of the universe's essential ingredients. They also help scientists to comprehend the most fundamental questions in physics, according to PBS.

John Conway, a professor of physics at the University of California, Davis explained that neutrinos are really pretty strange particles when you get down to it. He further explained that they are almost nothing at all because they have almost no mass and no electric charge.

In the new study, there was no evidence found that the sterile neutrino existed. Halzen said that that in two independent analyses of data from the huge Antarctic detector---each comprises of a year's worth of data or about 100,000 neutrino events---the striking feature related with the sterile neutrino was nowhere to be found, according to IceCube.

In case, there is a discovery of the fourth kind of neutrino, it would help in explaining some puzzles of the existence of more than three types of neutrinos. It would also help in resolving the mystery of the origin of dark matter and antimatter/matter asymmetry in the Universe. Another thing, Halzen said that failure to detect the said neutrino means physics stays in the dark about the origin of the minute neutrino mass, or why they have mass in the first place.

Meanwhile, Olga Botner, a professor of physics and astronomy at Uppsala University in Sweden stated that this new result highlights the resourcefulness of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. He further stated that it is not only an instrument for exploration of the violent universe yet allows detailed studies of the properties of the neutrinos themselves.

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