Flavor Oscillations With Sterile Neutrinos and In Dense Neutrino Environments

Open Access
Hollander, David Francis
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 09, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Irina Mocioiu, Dissertation Advisor
  • Douglas Cowen, Committee Chair
  • Stephane Coutu, Committee Member
  • Peter Istvan Meszaros, Special Member
  • neutrino
  • flavor oscillations
  • beyond the Standard Model
  • phenomenology
  • core-collapse supernovae
Many experiments have provided evidence for neutrino flavor oscillations, and consequently that neutrinos are in fact massive which is not predicted by the Standard Model. Many experiments have been built to constrain the parameters which determine flavor oscillations, and for only three flavors of neutrinos the mixing parameters are well known, aside from the CP violating phase for two mass hierarchies. Most experimental data can be well explained by mixing between three flavors of neutrinos, however oscillation anomalies from several experiments, most notably from LSND (Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector) have suggested that there may be additional flavors of neutrinos beyond those in the Standard Model. One of the focuses of this dissertation is the possibility of adding new flavors of right-handed neutrinos to the Standard Model to account for oscillation anomalies, and exploring the consequences of sterile neutrinos for other experiments. Sensitivities to a particular model of sterile neutrinos at the future Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment will be determined, in which CP effects introduced by the sterile neutrinos play an important role. It will be demonstrated how, by combining data from the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment along with data from Daya Bay and T2K, it is possible to provide evidence for or rule out this model of sterile neutrinos. A chi-squared analysis is used to determine the significance of measuring the effects of sterile neutrinos in IceCube; it will be shown that it may be possible to extract evidence for sterile neutrinos from high energy atmospheric neutrinos in IceCube. Furthermore it will be demonstrated how measuring neutrino flavor ratios from astrophysical sources in IceCube can help to distinguish between the three flavor scenario and a beyond the Standard Model (BSM) scenario involving sterile neutrinos. Measuring astrophysical as well as atmospheric neutrinos can evince the existence of sterile neutrinos. Despite the fact that the mixing parameters for the three Standard Model neutrino flavors are well known, some implications of neutrino interactions for flavor oscillations are not well understood. Neutrinos can interact with one another in a similar way to how neutrinos interact with normal matter. Neutrino-neutrino forward scattering can lead to a flavor swap for the propagating neutrino, or the propagating neutrino can retain its original flavor. These interactions contribute an effective potential to the Hamiltonian describing the flavor evolution which depends on a background neutrino density. In normal matter the neutrino density is very low which allows for neutrino-neutrino interactions to be ignored, however these interactions can dominate over vacuum and normal matter interactions in very dense environments such as core-collapse supernovae and early universe scenarios. Neutrino-neutrino interactions give rise to terms quadratic in neutrino densities in the equations of motion, and can give rise to what is called collective oscillations resulting from interference with vacuum and normal matter effects. The non-linearity has made the problem of solving for collective oscillations analytically intractable without simplifying assumptions, and has made this a problem relegated to supercomputer simulations. This dissertation is concerned with analytic methods for solving the equations of motion for core-collapse neutrino propagation. It will be shown here that, by keeping only $\nu\nu$-interactions at initial distances outward from the supernova core, it is possible to solve the equations of motion by factorizing vacuum oscillations and the effects of $\nu\nu$-interactions. Furthermore, it will be shown how using this factorization scheme it is possible to predict where flavor oscillations become unstable. This is an important development because it can allow one to predict the neutrino flux in Earth experiments from core-collapse supernovae, while at the same time gaining an understanding of the underlying physics involved in complicated processes such as collective oscillations and the rapid growth of oscillations at medium range distances. Using the factorization ansatz together with a measured supernova spectrum it is possible in principle to determine the thermal spectra inside of the supernova.