Search for superlight dark matter particles heats up | Science


Mark Stone/University of Washington

The hunt for wispy particles called axions, which may comprise the dark matter whose gravity keeps galaxies from breaking down, is warming up. The Axion Dark Matter Experiment (ADMX) at the University of Washington in Seattle has lastly reached the sensitivity needed to detect axions if they comprise dark matter, physicists report today in Physical Evaluation Letters Nevertheless, scientists have no idea precisely what does it cost? axions need to weigh, and it might take them years to scan the variety of possible masses.

An axion is a theoretical particle that was created 41 years ago to fix an issue in the theory of the strong nuclear force, which binds particles called quarks to make protons and neutrons. The axion might pull double task, nevertheless, and provide the dark matter, which cosmological research studies reveal comprises 85% of all matter. Up until now, dark matter has actually exposed itself just through its gravity, so among the most significant secrets in physics is exactly what the particles that comprise dark matter are.

If dark matter includes axions drifting around, then physicists should have the ability to discover them with basically a strong electromagnetic field and an exceptionally delicate radio. The electromagnetic field will transform the axions into photons, and since the axions are extremely light, those photons will have extremely low radio frequencies and need to offer an ultra-faint radio hum at an unique frequency. In their brand-new outcome, ADMX scientists dismiss axions in the variety from 2.66 microelectron volts ( MeV) to 2.82 MeV– about 20 trillionths the mass of the electron. If dark matter consists simply of axions, then the particles need to have a mass in between about 1 MeV and 100 MeV, theorists believe. So ADMX scientists will now sweep the frequency of their intricate radio antenna up as far as they can, to about 40 MeV. Stay tuned.

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