Nucleon decay and atmospheric neutrino posters at ICHEP

Gabriel Santucci of Stony Brook University

Three DUNE collaborators presented posters on the related topics of nucleon decay and atmospheric neutrinos at the ICHEP conference in Chicago last August.

Congratulations in particular go to Gabriel Santucci of Stony Brook University who was awarded a Distinguished Poster Award for his entry titled Nucleon Decay and Atmospheric Neutrino Event Reconstruction in DUNE. His was one of 20 posters that received this distinction, out of a field of about 500.

“We showed the current status of simulation and reconstruction of nucleon decay and atmospheric neutrino events in DUNE,” said Santucci. “It’s the first time we have a complete simulation (from start to end) of these types of events, and we are beginning to understand how well we can reconstruct these types of non-beam events in the DUNE far detector.”

The most significant connection between these topics, according to Santucci, is that atmospheric neutrino events are background for nucleon decay searches. Depending on the topology of each event and the neutrino energy, the two types of events may look very similar in the detector.

Focusing on atmospheric neutrinos, Luke Corwin, of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, presented a poster titled Studying Neutrino Oscillations with Atmospheric Neutrinos in DUNE. These neutrinos are produced when high-energy cosmic rays (mostly protons) collide with atoms in the upper atmosphere. Their energies span four orders of magnitude, and they will travel between 10 and 13,000 km between production and detection, penetrating the DUNE Far Detector from all directions.

“Atmospheric neutrino analyses in DUNE can provide valuable information about three-flavor oscillations despite the relatively modest statistics,” said Corwin. “These data provide a complementary analysis approach to beam neutrinos, and can help resolve ambiguities in beam-only analyses.”

Karl Warburton, from the University of Sheffield, presented a poster on Backgrounds to Nucleon Decay in DUNE, a topic closely related to Santucci’s.  In order to perform the required detailed study of cosmogenic background for the yet-to-be-seen nucleon decay processes, an underground cosmic muon generator (MUSUN) has been incorporated into LArSoft, according to Warburton. Thus far, a sample of 4 x108 high energy muons (representing 80 years of 10-kt detector live time) has been simulated in the full far detector geometry. A total of 109 muons will eventually be simulated, representing about 2000 kt-years of statistics, he said.

Santucci had an opportunity to chat with an attendee who has worked on background studies for MicroBooNE similar to the Sheffield group’s work for DUNE.

“It is nice to know that other FNAL experiments are also looking into this,” he said. “It’s an important synergy we can use!”