Since the findings of evidence for a sterile neutrino were released on June 4, a debate was sparked among physicists. Some have claimed that the physicists who produced the results on the Mini Booster Neutrino Experiment with how the statistics were mixed with a previous experiment.
Evidence for the sterile neutrino may have been bolstered on one side but weakened on the other side.
Existence Of Sterile Neutrinos
Neutrino nearly has no mass, they barely interact with other matter. There are three types of neutrinos: electron, muon, and tau. As neutrinos move through space they oscillate from one type to another. Physicists theorized with the idea of a fourth type of neutrino that would be able to pass through matter without interacting with it, a sterile neutrino.
In MiniBooNE, physicists fired beams of neutrinos at detector behind an oil tank insulator. They counted the number of neutrinos that struck the detector. Researchers recorded 2,437 electron neutrinos, almost 500 more than expected. They believe that the reason was that sterile neutrinos were causing more muon neutrinos to oscillate into electron neutrinos.
Researchers from MiniBooNE used data from the Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector (LSND), an experiment from the 90s. This experiment found the same results and came up with the theory that the muon antineutrinos could be changing into sterile neutrinos and then turned into electron antineutrinos.
Push Back On The Results
Physicists are fighting back against the results which have to lead to sensational headlines across the internet. Luca Stanco of Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics doesn't agree with how the results were combined with numbers from the LSND experiment. Stanco argues that researchers assumed that the two measurements will have the same physical effect. He says he is "quite disappointed" with how the results were reported.
Tommaso Dorigo also from Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics wrote that the excess events pile up in the low end of the detector's energy range. In this low-end backgrounds from other types of particles pile up as well. Dorigo says that if the MiniBooNE researchers underestimated their background their detection of sterile neutrinos may be background events.
Werner Rodejohann from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Germany says that the experiment provides data but not the whole picture. Rodejohann argues that the MiniBooNE researchers don't say how many electron neutrinos were generated after the proton collisions. Rodejohann says that sterile neutrinos have been theorized to be much heavier than what the MiniBooNE results show.