Measuring the mass of a sterile neutrino with a very short baseline reactor experiment

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Physical Review C




An analysis of the world's neutrino oscillation data, including sterile neutrinos, [M. Sorel, C. M. Conrad, and M. H. Shaevitz, Phys. Rev. D 70, 073004 (2004)] found a peak in the allowed region at a mass-squared difference ?m2?0.9eV2. We trace its origin to harmonic oscillations in the electron survival probability Pee as a function of L/E, the ratio of baseline to neutrino energy, as measured in the near detector of the Bugey experiment. We find a second occurrence for ?m2?1.9eV2. We point out that the phenomenon of harmonic oscillations of Pee as a function of L/E, as seen in the Bugey experiment, can be used to measure the mass-squared difference associated with a sterile neutrino in the range from a fraction of an eV2 to several eV2 (compatible with that indicated by the LSND experiment), as well as measure the amount of electron-sterile neutrino mixing. We observe that the experiment is independent, to lowest order, of the size of the reactor and suggest the possibility of a small reactor with a detector sitting at a very short baseline.