Resolving parameter degeneracies in long-baseline experiments by atmospheric neutrino data

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In this work we show that the physics reach of a long-baseline (LBL) neutrino oscillation experiment based on a superbeam and a megaton water Cherenkov detector can be significantly increased if the LBL data are combined with data from atmospheric neutrinos (ATM) provided by the same detector. ATM data are sensitive to the octant of $\theta_{23}$ and to the type of the neutrino mass hierarchy, mainly through three-flavor effects in e-like events. This allows to resolve the so-called $\theta_{23}$- and sign($\Delta m^2_{31}$)-parameter degeneracies in LBL data. As a consequence it becomes possible to distinguish the normal from the inverted neutrino mass ordering at $2\sigma$ CL from a combined LBL+ATM analysis if $\sin^2 2\theta_{13} \gtrsim 0.02$. The potential to identify the true values of $\sin^2 2\theta_{13}$ and the CP-phase $\delta_{cp}$ is significantly increased through the lifting of the degeneracies. These claims are supported by a detailed simulation of the T2K (phase II) LBL experiment combined with a full three-flavor analysis of ATM data in the HyperKamiokande detector.
Phys. Rev. D 71 (2005) 053006