The observed mass and mixing both in the neutrino and quark cases could be evidence for some interfamily hierarchy hinting that the lepton and quark sectors were, indeed, a result of the existence of a new quantum number related to “family”. We could name this family symmetry as . It was speculated by people like Froggatt long ago. The actual intrafamily hierarchy, i.e., the fact that in the quark sector, seem to require one of these symmetries to be anomalous.
A simple model with one family dependent anomalous U(1) beyond the SM was first proposed long ago to produce the given Yukawa coupling and their hierarchies, and the anomalies could be canceled by the Green-Schwarz mechanism which as by-product is able to fix the Weinberg angle as well. Several developments include the models inspired by the GUT or the heterotic superstring theory. The gauge structure of the model is that of the SM but enlarged by 3 abelian U(1) symmetries and their respective fields, sometimes denoted by . The first one is anomalous and family independent. Two of these fields, the non-anomalous, have specific dependencies on the 3 chiral families designed to reproduce the Yukawa hierarchies. There are right-handed neutrinos which “trigger” neutrino masses by some special types of seesaw mechanisms.
The 3 symmetries and their fields are usually spontaneously broken at some high energy scale by stringy effects. It is assumed that 3 fields, , with , develop a non-null vev. These fields are singlets under the SM gauge group but not under the abelian symmetries carried by . Thus, the Yukawa couplings appear as some effective operators after the spontaneous symmetry breaking. In the case of neutrinos, we have the mass lagrangian (at effective level):
and where . The parameters determine the mass and mixing hierarchy with the aid of some simple relationships:
and where is the Cabibblo angle. The are the charges assigned to the left handed leptons L and the right handed neutrinos N. These couplings generate the following mass matrices for neutrinos:
From these matrices, the associated seesaw mechanism gives the formula for light neutrinos:
The neutrino mass mixing matrix depends only on the charges we assign to the LH neutrinos due to cancelation of RH neutrino charges and the seesaw mechanism. There is freedom in the assignment of the charges . If the charges of the second and the third generation of leptos are equal (i.e., if ), then one is lead to a mass matrix with the following structure (or “texture”):
and where . This matrix can be diagonalized in a straightforward fashion by a large rotation. It is consistent (more or less), with a large mixing. In this theory or model, the explanation of the large neutrino mixing angles is reduced to a theory of prefactors in front of powers of the parameters , related with the vev after the family group spontaneous symmetry breaking!
Supersymmetry (SUSY) is one of the most discussed ideas in theoretical physics. I am not discussed its details here (yet, in this blog). However, in this thread, some general features are worth to be told about it. SUSY model generally include a symmetry called R-parity, and its breaking provide an interesting example of how we can generate neutrino masses WITHOUT using a right-handed neutrino at all. The price is simple: we have to add new particles and then we enlarge the Higgs sector. Of course, from a pure phenomenological point, the issue is to discover SUSY! On the theoretical aside, we can discuss any idea that experiments do not exclude. Today, after the last LHC run at 8TeV, we have not found SUSY particles, so the lower bounds of supersymmetric particles have been increased. Which path will Nature follow? SUSY, LR models -via GUTs or some preonic substructure, or something we can not even imagine right now? Only experiment will decide in the end…
In fact, in a generic SUSY model, dut to the Higgs and lepton doublet superfields, we have the same quantum numbers. We also have in the so-called “superpotential” terms, bilinear or trilinear pieces in the superfields that violate the (global) baryon and lepton number explicitly. Thus, they lead to mas terms for the neutrino but also to proton decays with unacceptable high rates (below the actual lower limit of the proton lifetime, about years!). To protect the proton experimental lifetime, we have to introduce BY HAND a new symmetry avoiding the terms that give that “too high” proton decay rate. In SUSY models, this new symmetry is generally played by the R-symmetry I mentioned above, and it is generally introduced in most of the simplest models including SUSY, like the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model (MSSM). A general SUSY superpotential can be written in this framework as
A less radical solution is to allow for the existence in the superpotential of a bilinear term with structure . This is the simplest way to realize the idea of generating the neutrino masses without spoiling the current limits of proton decay/lifetime. The bilinear violation of R-parity implied by the term leads by a minimization condition to a non-zero vacuum expectation value or vev, . In such a model, the neutrino acquire a mass due to the mixing between neutrinos and the neutralinos.The neutrinos remain massless in this toy model, and it is supposed that they get masses from the scalar loop corrections. The model is phenomenologically equivalent to a “3 Higgs doublet” model where one of these doublets (the sneutrino) carry a lepton number which is broken spontaneously. The mass matrix for the neutralino-neutrino secto, in a “5×5” matrix display, is:
and where the matrix corresponds to the two “gauginos”. The matrix is a 2×3 matrix and it contains the vevs of the two higgses plus the sneutrino, i.e., respectively. The remaining two rows are the Higgsinos and the tau neutrino. It is necessary to remember that gauginos and Higgsinos are the supersymmetric fermionic partners of the gauge fields and the Higgs fields, respectively.
I should explain a little more the supersymmetric terminology. The neutralino is a hypothetical particle predicted by supersymmetry. There are some neutralinos that are fermions and are electrically neutral, the lightest of which is typically stable. They can be seen as mixtures between binos and winos (the sparticles associated to the b quark and the W boson) and they are generally Majorana particles. Because these particles only interact with the weak vector bosons, they are not directly produced at hadron colliders in copious numbers. They primarily appear as particles in cascade decays of heavier particles (decays that happen in multiple steps) usually originating from colored supersymmetric particles such as squarks or gluinos. In R-parity conserving models, the lightest neutralino is stable and all supersymmetric cascade-decays end up decaying into this particle which leaves the detector unseen and its existence can only be inferred by looking for unbalanced momentum (missing transverse energy) in a detector. As a heavy, stable particle, the lightest neutralino is an excellent candidate to comprise the universe’s cold dark matter. In many models the lightest neutralino can be produced thermally in the hot early Universe and leave approximately the right relic abundance to account for the observed dark matter. A lightest neutralino of roughly GeV is the leading weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP) dark matter candidate.
Neutralino dark matter could be observed experimentally in nature either indirectly or directly. In the former case, gamma ray and neutrino telescopes look for evidence of neutralino annihilation in regions of high dark matter density such as the galactic or solar centre. In the latter case, special purpose experiments such as the (now running) Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) seek to detect the rare impacts of WIMPs in terrestrial detectors. These experiments have begun to probe interesting supersymmetric parameter space, excluding some models for neutralino dark matter, and upgraded experiments with greater sensitivity are under development.
If we return to the matrix (2) above, we observe that when we diagonalize it, a “seesaw”-like mechanism is again at mork. There, the role of can be easily recognized. The mass is provided by
where and is the largest gaugino mass. However, an arbitrary SUSY model produces (unless M is “large” enough) still too large tau neutrino masses! To get a realistic and small (1777 GeV is “small”) tau neutrino mass, we have to assume some kind of “universality” between the “soft SUSY breaking” terms at the GUT scale. This solution is not “natural” but it does the work. In this case, the tau neutrino mass is predicted to be tiny due to cancellations between the two terms which makes negligible the vev . Thus, (2) can be also written as follows
We can study now the elementary properties of neutrinos in some elementary superstring inspired models. In some of these models, the effective theory implies a supersymmetric (exceptional group) GUT with matter fields belong to the 27 dimensional representation of the exceptional group plus additional singlet fields. The model contains additional neutral leptons in each generation and the neutral singlets, the gauginos and the Higgsinos. As the previous model, but with a larger number of them, every neutral particle can “mix”, making the undestanding of the neutrino masses quite hard if no additional simplifications or assumptions are done into the theory. In fact, several of these mechanisms have been proposed in the literature to understand the neutrino masses. For instance, a huge neutral mixing mass matris is reduced drastically down to a “3×3” neutrino mass matrix result if we mix and with an additional neutral field whose nature depends on the particular “model building” and “mechanism” we use. In some basis , the mass matrix can be rewritten
and where the energy scale is (likely) close to zero. We distinguish two important cases:
1st. R-parity violation.
2nd. R-parity conservation and a “mixing” with the singlet.
In both cases, the sneutrinos, superpartners of are assumed to acquire a v.e.v. with energy size . In the first case, the field corresponds to a gaugino with a Majorana mass than can be produced at two-loops! Usually , and if we assume , then additional dangerous mixing wiht the Higgsinos can be “neglected” and we are lead to a neutrino mass about , in agreement with current bounds. The important conclusion here is that we have obtained the smallness of the neutrino mass without any fine tuning of the parameters! Of course, this is quite subjective, but there is no doubt that this class of arguments are compelling to some SUSY defenders!
In the second case, the field corresponds to one of the singlets. We have to rely on the symmetries that may arise in superstring theory on specific Calabi-Yau spaces to restric the Yukawa couplings till “reasonable” values. If we have in the matrix (4) above, we deduce that a massless neutrino and a massive Dirac neutrino can be generated from this structure. If we include a possible Majorana mass term of the sfermion at a scale , we get similar values of the neutrino mass as the previous case.
Final remark: mass matrices, as we have studied here, have been proposed without embedding in a supersymmetric or any other deeper theoretical frameworks. In that case, small tree level neutrino masses can be obtained without the use of large scales. That is, the structure of the neutrino mass matrix is quite “model independent” (as the one in the CKM quark mixing) if we “measure it”. Models reducing to the neutrino or quark mass mixing matrices can be obtained with the use of large energy scales OR adding new (likely “dark”) particle species to the SM (not necessarily at very high energy scales!).