UK – Earlier today, spokesmen of the LUX project announced that their dark matter detector has failed in finding the puzzling particles after 20 months of searching.
Framed on the 11th Identification of Dark Matter Conference in Sheffield, England, the announcement revealed the results of the latest efforts in the search for dark matter.
Despite stating the unfortunate results of the lengthy pursuit, scientists also claimed that the search field for the ever-elusive substance had been narrowed as a result of their exploration.
The initiative was carried out by specialists from various top academic institutions, including UC Berkeley, Brown University and University College London. The hunt started in late 2014, and it took place at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota in the U.S.
A Complicated Matter
What exactly is dark matter? To put it simply, Dark matter is the invisible substance that makes up a significant part of our universe.
The fact that it is invisible to the human eye and modern detectors is what makes the search for the element so frustrating as scientists seek to prove its existence. In spite of being accepted by most of the scientific community, it is only reasonable that men of science would wish to find living evidence of what is currently a hypothesis.
Dark matter is hypothesized to be made of weakly interacting massive particles or WIMPs for short. The WIMPs hypothesis has been the base of modern experiments like the LUX enterprise, which hope to come up with dark matter by looking for these particles in space.
Furthermore, the way in which they behave about other particulate matter and elements makes for an uphill battle in the quest for concrete proof.
A Quest in Darkness
The search for detecting black matter has been thorough and non-stopping this last couple of years. Even the latest LUX venture, which stands for Large Underground Xenon experiment and dark matter detector, was not its first attempt at finding the mysterious substance.
LUX had already been put in charge of the search back in 2013 by working its magic in distinguishing particles that interact with the core of the detector.
The experiment is installed almost 5,000 feet underground, while the nearly 400 kilograms of liquid xenon that make up the detector’s core reactor are enclosed and suspended in a body of purified water consisting of over 70,000 gallons.
The separate facilities served as a gold mine back in the day, and the reason for such isolation is to avoid interfering radioactive signals to disrupt the search for the super elusive particles.
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Although $10 million were invested in the experiment and an extensive team of professionals were in charge of the operations and data analysis of the unsuccessful project, the results are still the most comprehensive to date. As evidence that not all the effort put into the search was fruitless, a follow-up experiment is already in the works to begin its search as soon as 2020.
LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ), the successor of the LUX experiment, will continue to hunt for WIMPs in the quest for dark matter with a vastly amplified sensitivity thanks to its improved liquid xenon detector.