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New paths suggested to catch signals of dark matter particles

Dark matter has been able to defy every form of detector that has been designed to find it. It has been clearly known that dark matter makes up 85 percent of the total mass of the universe but what it is made of, is still a question.

May 5, 2020 14:57 IST
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As per the new study done by the researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and US Berkeley has suggested the new paths to catch the signals of dark matter particles whose energy is absorbed by the nuclei.

Several forms of large experiments have been searching for the dark matter particles by knocking into atomic nuclei, the process known as scattering. It produces tiny flashlights and other forms of signals in these interactions.

Dark matter has been able to defy every form of detector that has been designed to find it. It has been clearly known that dark matter makes up 85 percent of the total mass of the universe but what it is made of, is still a question.

What does the new study suggest?

The study by the researchers suggests new paths for catching signals of dark matters. Its energy is absorbed by the nuclei.

This absorption process can give an affected atom a kick which will cause it to eject a lighter and an energized particle such as an electron. It might also produce other types of signals too which depends on the nature of the dark matter particle.

The study mainly focuses on those cases where a neutrino or an electron has been ejected as the dark particle strikes an atom’s nucleus.

The study published in Physical Review Letters proposes that some existing experiments, including those that search for the dark matter particles as well as the process related to the neutrinos can also be broadened in order to look for the absorption related types of dark matter signals.

Researchers also propose that the new searches in the particle detector data which was previously collected can also turn up these overlooked dark matter signals. Jeff Dror, the lead author of the study stated that in this field there are known well-motivated candidates for dark matter such as Weakly Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP).

Other places where dark matter particle might be hiding and other particle possibilities:

Researchers have now been considering other places where dark matter particles might be hiding along with the other particle possibilities, for example, sterile neutrinos. It can also be bought in the family of particles known as fermions, which includes protons, neutrinos, and electrons.

The researchers have also noted that the range of new signals can open up an ocean of dark matter particle possibilities. It can be named as yet undiscovered fermions that have masses lighter than the typical range that is considered for WIMP.

What did the study’s suggested signatures mean?

The study team had considered the absorption process which is known as ‘neutral current’. The study’s suggested signatures of both the neutral current and charge current processes open up the orders of magnitude of unexplored parameter space. They both focus on energy signals in the MeV, which means millions of electron volts.

What kind of experiments are suited to search different kinds of dark matter signals?

Typical WIMP searches have now been sensitive to particle interactions. As per the researchers who explored the various particle interactions, it can be easily predicted what the energy spectrum of the particle coming out from or if it is a nucleon that is getting a kick.

The researchers also state that these absorption signals can possibly be more common than other types of signals that dark matter detectors have been designed to find.

The experiments that involve large volumes of detector material along with low background noise and high sensitivity are better suited for the expanded search for different forms of dark matter signals.

The researchers have also named a list of candidate experiments that can have data and search capabilities that can be useful in finding the target signal. The list includes LZ predecessor LUX, CUORE, XENON1T, PANDA X- II, KamLAND-Zen, XENON1T, SuperKamiokande, DarkSide-50, CDMS-II, and Borexino.

The research team has been hoping to work with experiment collaborations in order to analyze the existing data and also to find out whether search parameters of the ongoing experiments can be adjusted for other signals search.

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