The scientists working on the Large Underground Xenon dark matter detector spend 20 months experimenting with particles in the hope they would understand the mass of the universe.
Dark matter is one of the less known concepts in the world. The researchers only know that it makes up for 80% of the matter in the Universe. Other than this, it had never been observed directly.
The Large Underground Xenon experiment involved weakly interacting massive particles, which are thought to be the main contender of dark matter.
The instrument has the best search sensitivity on Earth, and the scientists working on the project had managed to push the capacity of the device way beyond the initial stage, four times more than it was at the beginning of the project in 2014.
The scientific laboratory is based on an abandoned gold mine from South Dakota, which is now managed by Sanford Underground Research Facility. The location helps protect the experiment site from background radiation.
The liquid xenon will act as an indicator of dark matter, as it will produce a flash of light when the dark matter would interact with regular atoms. While the setting of the experiment perfectly shielded radiation from the underground laboratory, the scientists received no sign of dark matter.
The xenon test is part of an array of projects that all aim at detecting dark matter. The other two researchers are conducted by the International Space Station and by the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.
Dark matter holds the key to the mysteries of the universe, as it would validate the theories that astrophysicists and astronomers have put together around the cosmos.
The universe component is believed to influence the rotation curves of galaxies, the bending of light around clusters, the collision of massive galaxy clusters, or correlations of galaxies that are at 500 million light years away from each other.
The researchers still try to explain the cause of dark matter’s high density and its mass, even though they have studied its gravitational effects. The Standard Model of particle physics cannot be used in this field, and the scientists need to find other methods to observe dark matter.
The negative results of the 20-month experiment will help researchers limit the models used in studying dark matter.
After the LUX laboratory showed no trace of the elusive universe component, the scientists are hoping that the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva will have more luck in finding dark-matter particles. However, it may be that the discovery would have to wait until larger direct detectors are built.
Image Source: Wikipedia