A quick check has confirmed that the brand new LUX-ZEPLIN darkish matter detector is essentially the most delicate ever. It could be our greatest wager for lastly discovering darkish matter particles


7 July 2022

An image of the top PMT array, part of the Lux-Zeplin Lab in the Sanford Underground Research Facility.

The LUX-ZEPLIN darkish matter detector on the Sanford Underground Analysis Facility in South Dakota is essentially the most delicate ever

Matthew Kapust/Sanford Underground Analysis Facility

The seek for darkish matter simply received a recent pair of eyes. A check run of the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) detector in South Dakota has proven it to be essentially the most delicate darkish matter detector but created, and researchers are on the point of flip it on and begin searching in earnest.

LZ consists of an enormous titanium tank full of 10 tonnes of extraordinarily pure liquid xenon. When a particle from outdoors the tank hits a xenon atom, it creates a burst of sunshine that’s measured by a sequence of detectors surrounding the tank. The properties of that gentle can then be analysed to find out what sort of particle brought on it. To protect the xenon from particles and radiation that we all know don’t come from darkish matter, the tank is surrounded by a good bigger tank of purified water and the entire thing is buried greater than a kilometre underground in an outdated gold mine.

“The centre of LZ is the purest place on Earth, possibly within the photo voltaic system. There’s no different quantity of area on or on this planet that’s that freed from radiation and mud,” says LZ group member Chamkaur Ghag at College Faculty London. “We will solely deal with a couple of gram of mud within the detector – Three grams of mud and we received’t be capable of discover something.”

A long time of trying to find darkish matter particles have been unsuccessful to date, so researchers have taken to creating increasingly more delicate detectors. A 3.5-month check run that led to April confirmed that LZ is essentially the most delicate but. “We’ve taken a number of months of knowledge, and after we checked out that information what we mentioned was ‘oh, shit – we’re already the world’s finest’,” says Ghag. “It’s like when you constructed a brand new automobile and took it across the block, and in that fast drive across the block you broke the world landspeed file.”

No matter sensitivity, although, three months wasn’t lengthy sufficient to truly discover darkish matter. Even when some did come by means of the detector throughout that point, we wouldn’t have sufficient information to say for certain what it was, says Ghag.

“For now it’s type of a bizarre factor, we’re saying that we’re the very best on the earth at discovering nothing,” he says. “However the prospect of discovering new physics a number of years from now could be fully possible.”

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