Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Dark matter and particle acceleration in near space


A new space telescope will soon peer into the darkness of 'near space' (within a few thousand light years of Earth) to seek answers related to the field of high-energy astrophysics

Peering into darkness can strike fear into the hearts of some, but a new space telescope will soon peer into the darkness of "near space" (within a few thousand light years of Earth). Scientists are using the telescope to seek answers related to the field of high-energy astrophysics.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5) is seen berthed to the International Space Station. The external CALET experiment, which will search for signatures of dark matter, is seen being extracted from the unpressurized section by the station's robotic arm, Canadarm2. An aurora over the Earth limb is visible in the background.

Credit: NASA

The CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) investigation will rely on the instrument to track the trajectory of cosmic ray particles and measure their charge and energy. The instrument is optimized for measuring electrons and gamma rays, which may contain the signature of dark matter or nearby sources of high-energy particle acceleration.

"The investigation is part of an international effort (involving Japan, Italy and USA) to understand the mechanisms of particle acceleration and propagation of cosmic rays in the galaxy, to identify their sources of acceleration, their elemental composition as a function of energy, and possibly to unveil the nature of dark matter," said CALET principal investigator Dr. Shoji Torii.

"We know that dark matter makes up about a quarter of the mass-energy of the universe, but we can't see it optically and don't know what it is," said Dr. John Wefel, and CALET co-principal investigator for the US team. "If CALET can see an unambiguous signature of dark matter, it could potentially produce a new understanding of the nature of dark matter."

Right now, scientists are much more certain what dark matter is not, rather than what it is. This research may help scientists identify dark matter and fit it, more accurately, into standard models of the universe.

CALET launched aboard the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle "Kounotori" (HTV-5) in August 2015 and was placed on the International Space Station's Japanese Experiment Module - Exposed Facility just days after its arrival.

The instrument is a charged particle telescope designed to measure electrons, protons, nuclei and gamma rays. Unlike the telescopes that are used to pinpoint stars and planets in the night sky, CALET operates in a scanning mode. As it looks upward, it records each cosmic ray event that enters its field of view and triggers its detectors to take measurements of the cosmic ray. These measurements are recorded on the space station and sent to a ground station where they are fed into computers running analysis codes that allow scientists to reconstruct each event.

From the resulting measurements, scientists must then separate electrons from the protons, gamma rays and the higher Z elements (chemical elements with >1 proton in the nucleus). They then sort the particles by energy to extend the existing data to higher energies and search for signatures of new astrophysics processes and phenomena like dark matter and nearby particle acceleration to study cosmic ray propagation in the galaxy.

"The major theoretical model attributes dark matter to weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), whose nature is predicted by various high energy physics models," said Torii. "In these models, a WIMP would be its own antiparticle and, when two of them get together, they annihilate, producing known particles like electron/positron pairs, proton/anti-proton pairs, and gamma rays."

Searching for excess annihilation products (i.e. electrons and gamma rays) is one way to try to identify a dark matter candidate and this is where CALET helps scientists. CALET joins another ISS investigation searching for excess annihilation products, the Alpha Magenetic Spectrometer or AMS, which is looking at positrons and antiprotons to identify dark matter.

"Dark matter is still a puzzle," said Torii. "By measuring with good energy resolution the spectrum of high energy cosmic electrons and photons, CALET may make a discovery or exclude existing models."

"Seeing an appropriate signature in the electron spectrum and/or gamma rays would be extremely important since this would set the mass scale (weight) for the dark matter particles, which would in turn allow theorists to better determine new physics associated with the WIMP," said Torii, adding that it is possible that a signature may be found that is not indicative of dark matter, but rather indicates a nearby source of charged particle acceleration.

"The latter would be [a] huge achievement since no individual sources have ever been positively identified," said Torii. "Such objects seem to be able to accelerate particles to energies far higher than we can achieve on Earth using the largest machines and we want to learn how nature does this, with possible applications here on Earth."

Understanding the location of these sources as well as particle propagation (the time particles spend, and distance traveled, wandering around the galaxy) means scientists can infer the shape of the cosmic ray spectrum at the source. Gaining a better understanding of how cosmic rays originate and the mechanisms of particle acceleration and propagation is important to space travel and for understanding the radiation environment in space and on Earth.

"Basically, CALET is after new information about how our little corner of the universe works," said Torii, who added that the investigation underscores the importance of the space station as a platform for performing investigations and for successful international collaboration.

Rachel Hobson | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Earth Electrons NASA Space Center acceleration cosmic ray dark dark matter gamma rays spectrum

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure
23.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Hochfrequenzphysik und Radartechnik FHR

nachricht Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1
21.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Hochfrequenzphysik und Radartechnik FHR

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products

23.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Sensitive grip

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

No compromises: Combining the benefits of 3D printing and casting

23.03.2018 | Process Engineering

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>