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Measurement of the neutrino-oxygen neutral-current interaction cross section by observing nuclear deexcitation $γ$ rays

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  • T2K Collaboration
Article number072012
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/10/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Physical Review D
Issue number7
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We report the first measurement of the neutrino-oxygen neutral-current quasielastic (NCQE) cross section. It is obtained by observing nuclear deexcitation $\gamma$-rays which follow neutrino-oxygen interactions at the Super-Kamiokande water Cherenkov detector. We use T2K data corresponding to $3.01 \times 10^{20}$ protons on target. By selecting only events during the T2K beam window and with well-reconstructed vertices in the fiducial volume, the large background rate from natural radioactivity is dramatically reduced. We observe 43 events in the $4-30$ MeV reconstructed energy window, compared with an expectation of 51.0, which includes an estimated 16.2 background events. The background is primarily nonquasielastic neutral-current interactions and has only 1.2 events from natural radioactivity. The flux-averaged NCQE cross section we measure is $1.55 \times 10^{-38}$ cm$^2$ with a 68\% confidence interval of $(1.22, 2.20) \times 10^{-38}$ cm$^2$ at a median neutrino energy of 630 MeV, compared with the theoretical prediction of $2.01 \times 10^{-38}$ cm$^2$.

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10 pages, 6 figures © 2014 American Physical Society