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The measurement of the rare kaon decay k-plus to pi-plus, neutrino and anti-neutrino

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Title: The measurement of the rare kaon decay k-plus to pi-plus, neutrino and anti-neutrino
Author: Ives, Joss
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Physics
Copyright Date: 2008
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2008-12-19
Subject Keywords Rare particle decays; Kaon
Abstract: Brookhaven National Laboratory experiment E949 was designed to search for the rare K meson decay K⁺ → π⁺ , neutrino, and anti-neutrino, a decay sensitive to physics beyond the Standard Model. While previous data analyses dealt with the high π⁺ momentum region accessible for this reaction, this thesis concentrates on the lower range between 140 and 199 MeV/c. Analysis of this low π⁺ momentum region was performed to search for additional evidence of the process K⁺ → π⁺, neutrino, and anti-neutrino. A blind analysis technique was used to avoid bias when developing the selection criteria used to suppress the competing background processes. The blind analysis technique was based on identifying background sources a priori and only examining the signal region once all selection criteria and background estimates had been finalized. The background estimates were performed using a technique known as a "bifurcation method", which relied on using two uncorrelated selection criteria to suppress each background source. The analysis of an exposure of 1.71 x 10¹² K⁺ decays resulted in an observation of three events with an estimated background of 0.927 ± 0.168(stat.)⁺³²⁰-₀.₂₃₇(sys.) events and a single event sensitivity of (4.28 ± 0.43)x 10-¹⁰. Using a likelihood method, the three candidate events observed here were combine with the previous E787 and E949 results, yielding a branching ratio of ϐ(K⁺ → π⁺, neutrino, and anti-neutrino decay of (1.73+1.15-1.05) x 10⁻¹⁰ at the 68% confidence level. This branching ratio is consistent with the prediction of the Standard Model, (0.85 ± 0.07) x 10⁻¹⁰.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/3234

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