Lorentz symmetry is a fundamental spacetime symmetry underlying both the standard model of particle physics and general relativity. This symmetry guarantees that physical phenomena are observed to be the same by all inertial observers. However, unified theories, such as string theory, allow for violation of this symmetry by inducing new spacetime structure at the quantum gravity scale. Thus, the discovery of Lorentz symmetry violation could be the first hint of these theories in nature. Here we report the results of the most precise test of spacetime symmetry in the neutrino sector to date. We use high-energy atmospheric neutrinos observed at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory to search for anomalous neutrino oscillations as signals of Lorentz violation. We find no evidence for such phenomena. This allows us to constrain the size of the dimension-four operator in the standard-model extension for Lorentz violation to the 10-28 level and to set limits on higher-dimensional operators in this framework. These are among the most stringent limits on Lorentz violation set by any physical experiment.
Available for download on Wednesday, January 16, 2019