Friday, April 15, 2011

New Data From XENON100 Narrows The Possible Range For Dark Matter

An International team of scientists in the XENON collaboration, including several from the Weizmann Institute, announced on Thursday the results of their search for the elusive component of our universe known as dark matter. 

This search was conducted with greater sensitivity than ever before.

After one hundred days of data collection in the XENON100 experiment, carried out deep underground at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory of the INFN, in Italy, they found no evidence for the existence of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles - or WIMPs - the leading candidates for the mysterious dark matter.

The three candidate events they observed were consistent with two they expected to see from background radiation. These new results reveal the highest sensitivity reported as yet by any dark matter experiment, while placing the strongest constraints on new physics models for particles of dark matter.

Weizmann Institute professors Eilam Gross, Ehud Duchovni and Amos Breskin, and research student Ofer Vitells, made significant contributions to the findings by introducing a new statistical method that both increases the search sensitivity and enables new discovery.

Any direct observation of WIMP activity would link the largest observed structures in the Universe with the world of subatomic particle physics. While such detection cannot be claimed as yet, the level of sensitivity achieved by the XENON100 experiment could be high enough to allow an actual detection in the near future. 

What sets XENON100 apart from competing experiments is its significantly lower background radiation, which is 100 times lower, greatly reducing the potential obscuring of any dark matter signal.

The XENON100 detector, which uses 62 kg of liquid xenon as its WIMP target, and which measures tiny charges and light signals produced by predicted rare collisions between WIMPs and xenon atoms, continues its search for WIMPs.

New data from the 2011 run, as well as the plan to build a much larger experiment in the coming years, promise an exciting decade in the search for the solution to one of nature's most fundamental mysteries.

Cosmological observations consistently point to a picture of our universe in which the ordinary matter we know makes up only 17% of all matter; the rest - 83% - is in an as yet unobserved form - so-called dark matter.

This complies with predictions of the smallest scales; necessary extensions of the Standard Model of particle physics suggest that exotic new particles exist, and these are perfect dark matter candidates. Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) are thus implied in both cosmology and particle physics.

An additional hint for their existence lies in the fact that the calculated abundance of such particles arising from the Big Bang matches the required amount of dark matter. The search for WIMPs is thus well-founded; a direct detection of such particles would provide the central missing piece needed to confirm this new picture of our Universe.

Read more about how XENON100 Narrows The Possible Range For Dark Matter

No comments:

Post a Comment