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What can we learn from neutrinoless double beta decay experiments?

  • Author(s): Bahcall, John N.
  • et al.
Abstract

We assess how well next generation neutrinoless double beta decay and normal neutrino beta decay experiments can answer four fundamental questions. 1) If neutrinoless double beta decay searches do not detect a signal, and if the spectrum is known to be inverted hierarchy, can we conclude that neutrinos are Dirac particles? 2) If neutrinoless double beta decay searches are negative and a next generation ordinary beta decay experiment detects the neutrino mass scale, can we conclude that neutrinos are Dirac particles? 3) If neutrinoless double beta decay is observed with a large neutrino mass element, what is the total mass in neutrinos? 4) If neutrinoless double beta decay is observed but next generation beta decay searches for a neutrino mass only set a mass upper limit, can we establish whether the mass hierarchy is normal or inverted? We base our answers on the expected performance of next generation neutrinoless double beta decay experiments and on simulations of the accuracy of calculations of nuclear matrix elements.

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