An Analysis of the 3-He Proportional Counter Data from the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Using Pulse Shape Discrimination

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Martin, Ryan
solar neutrinos, proportional counters, SNO, neutron detection, pulse shape discrimination, Markov Chain Monte Carlo
This thesis presents an independent analysis of the data from 3-He-filled proportional counters from the third phase of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) data. These counters were deployed in SNO's heavy water to independently detect neutrons produced by the neutral current interaction of 8-B solar neutrinos with deuterium. Previously published results from this phase were based on a spectral analysis of the energy deposited in the proportional counters. The work in this thesis introduces a new observable based on the time-profile of the ionization in the counters. The inclusion of this observable in a maximum-likelihood fit increases the potential to distinguish neutrons from backgrounds which are primarily due to alpha-decays. The combination of this new observable with the energy deposited in the counters results in a more accurate determination of the number of neutrons. The analysis presented in this thesis was limited to one third of the data from the proportional counters, uniformly distributed in time. This limitation was imposed to reconcile different time-lines between the submission of this thesis, a thorough review of this work by the SNO Collaboration and results from an independent analysis that is still underway. Analysis of this reduced data set determined that 398 +/- 29 (stat.) +/- 9 (sys.) neutrons were detected in this reduced data-set. The number compares well to the previous analysis of the data, based only on a spectral analysis of the deposited energy, which determined that 410 +/- 44 (stat.) +/- 9 (sys.) were detected in the same time period. The analysis presented here has led to a substantial increase in the statistical accuracy. Assuming that the statistical accuracy will increase when the full data set is analyzed, the results from this thesis would bring the uncertainty in the 8-B solar neutrino flux to down 6.8% from 8.5% in the previously published results. The work from the thesis is intended to be included in a future analysis of the SNO data and will result in a more accurate measurement of the total flux of solar neutrinos from 8-B as well as reduce the uncertainty in the $\theta_{12}$ neutrino oscillation mixing angle.
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