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Ash River Lab Detects First Neutrinos

Created: 02/12/2014 2:12 PM WDIO.com

A newly-constructed experiment operated by the University of Minnesota near the Canadian border has detected its first long-distance neutrinos.

The lab in Ash River detects neutrinos generated 500 miles away at Fermilab in suburban Chicago.  The Ash River detector is similar to one in the Soudan Underground Mine near Tower, which detects neutrinos from the same beam.

Neutrinos come in three types and change between them, or oscillate, as they travel underground at the speed of light.  Measurements from detectors at Fermilab and in Ash River can show that oscillation has occurred.

One goal of the experiment is to determine the mass of the different types of neutrinos, which will help scientists theorize how they work.  Ultimately, neutrino research could help reveal more about the early moments of the universe.

Officially known as the NOvA experiment, the Ash River project is scheduled to run for six years.  NOvA stands for NuMI (Neutrinos from the Main Injector) Off-Axis Electron Neutrino Appearance.

It's operated by the U of M under a cooperative agreement with the Department of Energy's Office of Science.  Funding also comes from the National Science Foundation.

Scientists working on the project include Alec Habig, professor of physics at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Workers at the NOvA hall in Ash River assemble the final block of the far detector in early February 2014, with the nearly completed detector in the background.
Photo courtesy of NOvA collaboration

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