Testing decay of astrophysical neutrinos with incomplete information

Mauricio Bustamante, John F. Beacom, Kohta Murase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Neutrinos mix and have mass differences, so decays from one to another must occur. But how fast? The best direct limits on nonradiative decays, based on solar and atmospheric neutrinos, are weak, τ 10-3 s (m/eV) or much worse. Greatly improved sensitivity, τ∼103 s (m/eV), will eventually be obtained using neutrinos from distant astrophysical sources, but large uncertainties - in neutrino properties, source properties, and detection aspects - do not allow this yet. However, there is a way forward now. We show that IceCube diffuse neutrino measurements, supplemented by improvements expected in the near term, can increase sensitivity to τ∼10 s (m/eV) for all neutrino mass eigenstates. We provide a road map for the necessary analyses and show how to manage the many uncertainties. If limits are set, this would definitively rule out the long-considered possibility that neutrino decay affects solar, atmospheric, or terrestrial neutrino experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number063013
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 21 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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