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Press Release 06-052
First Result from New Experiment Confirms Neutrino Oscillation

Studies may aid understanding of all matter

Back to article | Note about images

The NuMI beam line is the business end of Fermilab's neutrino "gun."

Although it doesn't produce neutrinos directly, the NuMI beam line is the business end of Fermilab's neutrino "gun." When it's operating at highest intensity, the beam line will transport a package of 20,000 billion protons every 2 seconds to a graphite target. The target converts the protons into bursts of particles with exotic names such as kaons and pions. Like a beam of light emerging from a flashlight, the particles form a wide cone when leaving the target. A set of two special lenses, called horns, focuses the beam and sends it in the right direction. The beam particles decay and produce muon neutrinos, which then travel in a straight line through two detectors: one at Fermilab, and the other 450 miles away in Minn.

Credit: Peter Ginter, Fermilab


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The MINOS neutrinos travel 450 miles straight through the earth from Ill. to Minn.

Neutrinos, ghost-like particles that rarely interact with matter, travel 450 miles straight through the earth from Fermilab in Batava, Ill. to Soudan, Minn. -- no tunnel needed. The Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) experiment will study the neutrino beam using two detectors. The MINOS near detector, located at Fermilab, records the composition of the neutrino beam as it leaves Fermilab. The MINOS far detector, located in Minn., half-a-mile underground, will again analyze the neutrino beam. It will allow scientists to directly study the oscillation of muon neutrinos into electron neutrinos or tau neutrinos under laboratory conditions.

Credit: Fermilab


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