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Neutrino interferometry for high-precision tests of Lorentz symmetry with IceCube

Nature Physicsvolume 14pages961966 (2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

Lorentz symmetry is a fundamental spacetime symmetry underlying both the standard model of particle physics and general relativity. This symmetry guarantees that physical phenomena are observed to be the same by all inertial observers. However, unified theories, such as string theory, allow for violation of this symmetry by inducing new spacetime structure at the quantum gravity scale. Thus, the discovery of Lorentz symmetry violation could be the first hint of these theories in nature. Here we report the results of the most precise test of spacetime symmetry in the neutrino sector to date. We use high-energy atmospheric neutrinos observed at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory to search for anomalous neutrino oscillations as signals of Lorentz violation. We find no evidence for such phenomena. This allows us to constrain the size of the dimension-four operator in the standard-model extension for Lorentz violation to the \(10^{-28}\) level and to set limits on higher-dimensional operators in this framework. These are among the most stringent limits on Lorentz violation set by any physical experiment.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the support from the following agencies: USA—US National Science Foundation–Office of Polar Programs, US National Science Foundation–Physics Division, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Center for High Throughput Computing (CHTC) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Open Science Grid (OSG), Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), US Department of Energy–National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, Particle astrophysics research computing centre at the University of Maryland, Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research at Michigan State University and Astroparticle physics computational facility at Marquette University; Belgium—Funds for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS and FWO), FWO Odysseus and Big Science programmes, and Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (Belspo); Germany—Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Helmholtz Alliance for Astroparticle Physics (HAP), Initiative and Networking Fund of the Helmholtz Association, Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron (DESY), and High Performance Computing cluster of the RWTH Aachen; Sweden—Swedish Research Council, Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), and Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation; Australia—Australian Research Council; Canada—Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Calcul Québec, Compute Ontario, Canada Foundation for Innovation, WestGrid and Compute Canada; Denmark—Villum Fonden, Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF); New Zealand—Marsden Fund; Japan—Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) and Institute for Global Prominent Research (IGPR) of Chiba University; Korea—National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF); Switzerland—Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF); UK—Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and The Royal Society.

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  1. Department of Physics, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

    • M. G. Aartsen
    • , G. C. Hill
    • , A. Kyriacou
    • , S. Robertson
    • , A. Wallace
    •  & B. J. Whelan
  2. DESY, Zeuthen, Germany

    • M. Ackermann
    • , E. Bernardini
    • , S. Blot
    • , F. Bradascio
    • , H.-P. Bretz
    • , J. Brostean-Kaiser
    • , A. Franckowiak
    • , E. Jacobi
    • , T. Karg
    • , T. Kintscher
    • , S. Kunwar
    • , R. Nahnhauer
    • , K. Satalecka
    • , C. Spiering
    • , J. Stachurska
    • , A. Stasik
    • , N. L. Strotjohann
    • , A. Terliuk
    • , M. Usner
    • , J. van Santen
    •  & M. Kowalski
  3. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

    • J. Adams
    •  & H. Bagherpour
  4. Science Faculty, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

    • J. A. Aguilar
    • , I. Ansseau
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    • , K. Meagher
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    •  & S. Sarkar
  6. Oskar Klein Centre and Department of Physics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

    • M. Ahrens
    • , C. Bohm
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  12. III. Physikalisches Institut, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

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    • X. Bai
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  14. Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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  15. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA

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  16. Institute of Physics, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany

    • V. Baum
    • , S. Böser
    • , V. di Lorenzo
    • , B. Eberhardt
    • , T. Ehrhardt
    • , L. Köpke
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    • , G. Momenté
    • , P. Peiffer
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    • R. Bay
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    • J. J. Beatty
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  19. Department of Astronomy, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

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    • , F. Bos
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    • , J. Kim
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    •  & E. Unger
  29. Department of Physics and Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

    • J. Bourbeau
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    • , J. Wood
    • , D. L. Xu
    • , T. Yuan
    •  & K. Hoshina
  30. Dienst ELEM, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium

    • L. Brayeur
    • , M. Casier
    • , C. De Clercq
    • , K. D. de Vries
    • , G. de Wasseige
    • , J. Kunnen
    • , J. Lünemann
    • , G. Maggi
    • , S. Toscano
    •  & N. van Eijndhoven
  31. SNOLAB, Lively, ON, Canada

    • K. Clark
  32. Institut für Kernphysik, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Münster, Germany

    • L. Classen
    •  & A. Kappes
  33. Physik-department, Technische Universität München, Garching, Germany

    • S. Coenders
    • , M. Huber
    • , K. Krings
    • , I. C. Rea
    • , E. Resconi
    •  & A. Turcati
  34. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

    • D. F. Cowen
  35. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

    • J. P. A. M. de André
    • , T. DeYoung
    • , J. Hignight
    • , K. B. M. Mahn
    • , J. Micallef
    • , G. Neer
    •  & D. Rysewyk
  36. Bartol Research Institute and Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA

    • H. Dembinski
    • , P. A. Evenson
    • , T. K. Gaisser
    • , J. G. Gonzalez
    • , R. Koirala
    • , H. Pandya
    • , D. Seckel
    • , T. Stanev
    •  & S. Tilav
  37. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Gent, Gent, Belgium

    • S. De Ridder
    • , M. Labare
    • , D. Ryckbosch
    • , W. Van Driessche
    • , S. Vanheule
    •  & M. Vraeghe
  38. Institut für Physik, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany

    • M. de With
    • , D. Hebecker
    • , H. Kolanoski
    •  & M. Kowalski
  39. Department of Physics, Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA

    • A. R. Fazely
    • , S. Ter-Antonyan
    •  & X. W. Xu
  40. Department of Astronomy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

    • J. Gallagher
  41. Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan

    • K. Hoshina
  42. Department of Physics and Institute for Global Prominent Research, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan

    • A. Ishihara
    • , M. Kim
    • , T. Kuwabara
    • , L. Lu
    • , K. Mase
    • , M. Relich
    • , A. Stößl
    •  & S. Yoshida
  43. CTSPS, Clark-Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA, USA

    • G. S. Japaridze
  44. Department of Physics, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX, USA

    • B. J. P. Jones
  45. School of Physics and Astronomy, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

    • T. Katori
    •  & S. Mandalia
  46. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA

    • J. Kiryluk
    • , M. Lesiak-Bzdak
    • , H. Niederhausen
    •  & Y. Xu
  47. Universitee de Mons, Mons, Belgium

    • G. Kohnen
  48. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

    • S. Kopper
    • , P. Nakarmi
    • , J. A. Pepper
    • , M. Santander
    • , P. A. Toale
    •  & D. R. Williams
  49. Department of Physics, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

    • N. Kurahashi
    • , B. Relethford
    • , M. Richman
    •  & L. Wills
  50. Department of Physics, University of Wisconsin, River Falls, WI, USA

    • J. Madsen
    • , S. Seunarine
    •  & G. M. Spiczak
  51. Department of Physics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

    • R. Maruyama
  52. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, USA

    • K. Rawlins
  53. Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

    • S. Sarkar
  54. School of Physics and Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA

    • I. Taboada
    •  & C. F. Tung

Consortia

  1. The IceCube Collaboration

Contributions

The IceCube Collaboration designed, constructed and now operates the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. Data processing and calibration, Monte Carlo simulations of the detector and of theoretical models, and data analyses were performed by a large number of collaboration members, who also discussed and approved the scientific results presented here. The main authors of this manuscript were C. Argüelles, A. Kheirandish, G. Collin, S. Mandalia, J. Conrad and T. Katori. It was reviewed by the entire collaboration before publication, and all authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to C. Argüelles or G. H. Collin or J. M. Conrad or A. Kheirandish or T. Katori or S. Mandalia.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures, notes and references

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-018-0172-2