Now that they’ve recognized the Higgs boson, scientists on the Large Hadron Collider have set their sights on a much more elusive target. Throughout us are dark matter and dark energy—the invisible stuff that binds the galaxy collectively, however, which nobody has been capable of immediately detect. “We all know for positive there is a darkish world, and there is extra power in it than there’s in ours,” mentioned LianTao Wang, a University of Chicago professor of physics who research find out how to discover alerts in giant particle accelerators just like the LHC.
Wang, together with scientists from the University and UChicago-affiliated Fermilab, suppose they can lead us to its tracks; in a paper revealed April 3 in Physical Review Letters, they laid out a modern methodology for stalking darkish matter within the LHC by exploiting a possible particle’s barely slower velocity.
Whereas the darkish world makes up greater than 95% of the universe, scientists solely realize it exists from its results—like a poltergeist you’ll be able only to see when it pushes one thing off a shelf. For instance, we all know there’s dark matter as a result of we can see gravity performing on it—it helps hold our galaxies from flying aside.
Theorists suppose there’s one specific form of darkish particle that solely often interacts with regular matter. It could be more massive and longer-lived than different identified particles, with a lifetime as much as one-tenth of a second. Several instances in a decade, researchers consider, this particle can get caught up within the collisions of protons that the LHC is continually creating and measuring.
“One notably attention-grabbing risk is that these lengthy-lived darkish particles are coupled to the Higgs boson in some vogue—that the Higgs is definitely a portal to the darkish world,” stated Wang, referring to the final holdout particle in physicists’ grand idea of how the universe works, found on the LHC in 2012. “It is attainable that the Higgs may truly decay into these lengthy-lived particles.”
The one downside is finding out these occasions from the remainder; there are higher than a billion collisions per second within the 27-kilometer LHC, and every considered one of these sends subatomic chaff spraying in all instructions.