The Large Underground Xenon deep beneath the surface of the Earth in South Dakota is getting ready to blow the lid off dark matter.
Scientists who are trying to crack the code on dark matter have reason to be very excited: the Large Underground Xenon has been recalibrated and is more sensitive than ever.
The incredible dark matter detector is located in a facility a mile below the Black Hills of South Dakota at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, and may represent the best change we have to confirm the existence of dark matter, according to a UPI report.
Now, it’s more sensitive than ever based on recent testing after a recalibration, based on a paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The sensitivity has been improved by a factor of 20, “significantly enhancing our ability to look for WIMPs [weakly interactive massive particles],” said Rick Gaitskell, who is the professor of physics at Brown University, in a statement.
“It is vital that we continue to push the capabilities of our detector in the search for the elusive dark matter particles,” he added.
So what is this strange machine? Essentially, it’s a huge tank of liquid xenon that is surrounded by photon detectors that are incredibly sensitive and able to detect WIMPs, which could shed light on dark matter. Scientists think that when a WIMP collides with a xenon atom, it produces a flash of light.
Said Daniel McKinsey, a professor at the University of California Berkeley, in the statement: “We look for WIMPs produced in the Big Bang that are still around, up to very high masses — we have the best sensitivity of any experiment to date for WIMP masses above four times that of a proton. We haven’t yet observed dark matter interactions, but the search goes on.”