STATES CHRONICLE – World’s most sensitive particle detector, the Large Underground Xenon (LUX), has failed to find evidence of dark matter. Scientists, however, don’t plan to give up. They said that the latest experiment has only proven that the elusive matter is invisible to our current tools.
LUX scientists hunted dark matter from more than 300 days between 2014 and 2016. In the meantime, they boosted LUX’s sensitivity by four times. A spokesperson for the team noted that the super-sensitive detector has yielded many scientific results since 2013, but dark matter simply chose not to “show up” during that period.
Fortunately, the experiment is not a waste of time. The data it has collected on other particles can now help scientists to trim their current theories on dark matter particles, and make future dark matter experiments more precise.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished,”
said Tom Shutt, leader of the LUX team and co-founder of the project.
Shutt noted that the experiment panned out even better than originally anticipated. The scientists said that the resulting observational data will help the team better understand background signals and how to calibrate the machine.
No scientist can now boast that he has direct evidence of dark matter. Yet, researchers claim that the substance does exist as their theoretical models have shown. LUX detector has been hunting the elusive particles since 2012. The detector is buried deep within the ground at South Dakota-based Sanford Underground Research Facility.
Scientists are eager to find evidence that weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs) do exist to finally prove that theories about dark matter are correct. WIMPs, reportedly, rarely collide with regular matter, so catching them is extremely hard.
Researchers explained that dark matter interactions with normal matter result in a handful of events per century in every kilogram of material. The machine uses liquid xenon in the attempts to capture the fleeting matter.
The findings were presented Thursday at a conference discussing dark matter in Sheffield, UK.
Scientists vowed to double their efforts and build a more sensitive detector dubbed LUX-ZEPLIN. The new machine is expected to be 100 times sharper than the current instrument and use 10 tons of xenon in an incoming series of experiments.
Shutt said that the next-gen detector, which is slated to become operational in 2020, would be “based on lessons learned” from the earlier instrument.