A next-generation dark matter detector has begun its operations, and has already presented its first results, which show that it is the most sensitive device of this type on Earth.
A machine could help unlock one of the biggest mysteries in physics – nature dark matter– By directly detecting its constituent particles for the first time.
Deep in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment — operated by a team of 250 scientists led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Laboratory) — has passed the screening phase of its flight start-up procedure. Colors.
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The LZ detector has been in operation since December 2021, and these first results represent the first 60 days of live operations. We’re ready and everything looks good,” said Berkeley Lab senior physicist and former LZ spokesperson Kevin Lisko. statement (Opens in a new tab). “It’s a complex detector with many parts and they all work well within expectations.”
Dark matter makes up about 85% of known matter Universe , but because it does not interact with light, it is practically invisible. Likewise, whatever particles make up dark matter, they don’t interact strongly with other matter either.
In fact, the only way scientists can infer the existence of dark matter is through it gravity effect which literally connects most galaxies, preventing its constituent stars from flying away as they rotate.
This means that researchers know that dark matter is not made of protons and neutrons like the everyday matter – or baryonic matter – that we see around us on a daily basis.
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The LUX-ZEPLIN detector was specifically set up to search for a putative type of dark matter called Large molecules react weaklyAnd theor WIMPs. These particles are expected to collide with matter very rarely and interact very weakly when they do occur.
Currently, dark matter particles have not been directly detected, but the hope is that the LZ detector can change that by detecting the faint interactions of these mysterious particles with xenon atoms. This requires a sensitive detector with all possible noise that could interfere with detection removed.
The LZ’s xenon is housed in two nested titanium tanks containing ten tons of the element in its liquid state. These tanks are monitored by two photomultiplier tubes (PMT) arrays that prepare to detect dim light sources.
The tanks and accompanying detectors also sit inside a larger detection system that can pick up any particles that can mimic a dark matter signal and eliminate that from searching for real dark matter.
To determine these weak interactions, xenon tanks must be kept at minus 148 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 100 degrees Celsius). In addition, the LZ team must remove all natural background radiation from the detector. A tank of water surrounds the experiment from the natural radiation emitted by the radiation from the walls of the laboratory.
The underground location of the dark matter detector helps protect it from high-energy protons and atomic nuclei that move through space at nearly the speed of light and originate from the Sun and out of the Solar System called cosmic rays.
The sensitivity of the LZ detector will be further enhanced over the next 1,000 days, which means that this is just the beginning of the experiment.
LZ spokesperson from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Hugh Lippincott, said in a statement statement (Opens in a new tab). “There’s a lot of science to do and it’s very exciting!”
The first results of the detector were Published on the site (Opens in a new tab) LZ Tests on Thursday (7 July).
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