U.S. scientists To Start a Monumental Experiment to Find Dark Matter Particles

One of the most puzzling parts of physics is dark matter. A majority of experts agree that it likely exists but no one has any concrete proof. Currently, U.S. scientists intend to embark on a monumental experiment in an effort to find elusive dark matter particles.

The project is called the SuperCDMS SNOLAB experiment and is funded by the U.S Department of Energy. The experiment will occur at a lab in Canada situated 6,800 feet underground inside of a nickel mine near the city of Sudbury. The project’s goal is to find evidence for the existence of a type of dark matter particle known as weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs for short.

Scientists think visible matter makes up only about 5 percent of all matter in the universe, as reported by NASA. The rest of the matter is something called dark matter. Yet, this theory, though widely accepted, is still just a theory. We haven’t found any dark matter, despite scientists’ belief that it played a crucial role in the formation of galaxies.

Dark matter is extremely hard to pinpoint because it does not emit light or energy and cannot be directly observed, as explained by Space.com. One popular theory is that dark matter is composed of WIMPs. Scientists think that these particles could have 10 to 100 times the mass of a proton, a kind of molecule that makes up regular matter.

If they exist, WIMPs have a weak interaction with normal matter, making them difficult to detect. These hypothetical particles would be able to pass through regular matter like ghosts, but every so often may collide with an atom of regular matter, resulting in a reaction that scientists can note. However, this has not been observed, at least not yet.

The SuperCDMS SNOLAB experiment hopes to change this by measuring the collisions of atoms in silicon and germanium crystals. During the experiments, the crystals will be supercooled to a fraction of a degree above absolute zero, a condition they believe will induce this desired collision. These crystals will be held inside of four detector towers, each containing six crystals. The scientists hope to be able to track and record “fingerprints” left by dark matter molecules with this experiment, according to Phys Org.

The experiment now has approved funding and will begin in the early 2020s as a way to bring science closer to uncovering the mystery of dark matter.

References: https://bit.ly/2KWpb3i

Imprint

Image Credit: Color4260 / Shutterstock