Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hunt for the WIMP

03.02.2011
A project based in the Gran Sasso Massif aims to find the constituents of Dark Matter / Focus on the WIMP particle

The spectrum of research in the field of physics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Germany has been extended to include one of the most important endeavors of our age: the empirical search for Dark Matter.

With the appointment of Professor Dr Uwe Oberlack in summer 2010, the JGU Institute of Physics acquired one of the leading experts in this field. He will be able to base his work in Mainz on the results of theoretical explorations of the nature of Dark Matter. Mainz University has thus joined a top group of institutes worldwide leading the hunt for Dark Matter.

Dark Matter has been the driving force for structure formation in the universe. We can see its impact on scales ranging from galaxies, galaxy clusters, to the largest natural structures known to us - the colossal superclusters and filaments that surround vast cosmic voids like bubbles in a foam bath. This matter was the cradle in which the very earliest galaxies were able to take shape. Dark matter still surrounds and permeates our and other galaxies and holds these together - but for us it is completely invisible. We know little about Dark Matter to date, although it constitutes nearly one quarter of the material making up our universe. "What we primarily know is what Dark Matter is not," explains Uwe Oberlack, who had been in the USA conducting research in this field and in that of high-energy astrophysics for ten years before his return to Germany.

"Dark matter is not just transparent, but is also completely different from all other forms of material that we know." Professor Oberlack participated in the setup of the XENON international Dark Matter research project, which aims at understanding the nature of Dark Matter through its direct detection. The current XENON100 experiment, located in the Gran Sasso underground laboratory (LNGS) in central Italy, is one of the most sensitive ongoing searches for Dark Matter.

Research into Dark Matter will constitute one of the foremost scientific endeavors of the next decade. Dark matter makes up 23 percent of the universe, while normal, visible matter represents a mere 4.6 percent. The greater proportion of our universe, 72 percent, is made up of so-called "Dark Energy". We know even less about Dark Energy than we do about Dark Matter, but it is Dark Energy that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.

It was because of the observed motion of galaxies in galaxy clusters that the existence of Dark Matter was first proposed in the early 1930s. Their orbital velocity is so rapid that these galaxy clusters would fly apart if the gravitational force of visible matter were the only thing holding them together. A similar effect was subsequently observed in the case of spiral galaxies. There had to be some additional force allowing galaxies to rotate at such high rates, and the gravitational force of some unseen matter was a possible explanation. We now know that there is indeed Dark Matter, but this matter cannot consist of the quarks and electrons that make up the atoms we are familiar with. Other candidate particles, such as neutrinos, have also been eliminated from the search. "Our theory at present is that Dark Matter was formed fairly soon after the Big Bang," states Oberlack. "It probably consists of neutral, massive particles that only weakly interact with other particles." These WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles) have yet to be discovered.

Oberlack is looking for them deep under the surface of the earth as part of a team of researchers from 12 institutes using a xenon detector that has been very carefully shielded against background cosmic radiation. It is hoped that the detector of the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso that uses liquid xenon at a temperature of -95 degrees Celsius will be able to capture the signature of WIMPs. Following initial trials using smaller detectors, the current XENON100 experiment will be searching for Dark Matter using a detector mass of 62 kilogramms and a 100-fold decrease in background exposure in comparison with its forerunners. This device should increase sensitivity by a magnitude of 15 and be capable of directly detecting a large proportion of the hypothetical particles called "neutralinos", a type of WIMP predicted by the supersymmetry theory. Supersymmetry (often abbreviated to SUSY) is a hypothetical concept of a new symmetry of nature. It is associated only with very high energy particles, which existed in the early universe or can be created in large particle accelerators, such as CERN's LHC.

The successful data taken with XENON100 has spurred the XENON collaboration on to plan an improved detector with a mass of one ton and a sensitivity enhanced by a magnitude of 50 to 100, which they hope will be ready for use within the next three years. If the assumptions are correct and neutralinos are indeed the basic constituent of Dark Matter, it may be possible to demonstrate their existence in the laboratory in the next few years, and then even determine some of their physical properties.

The research work is being financed to the tune of 100,000 Euros by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation under its special program "Rückkehr deutscher Wissenschaftler aus dem Ausland," designed to encourage German scientists to return to Germany.

Weitere Informationen:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/eng/14011.php - Press Release ;
http://www.lngs.infn.it/home.htm - Gran Sasso National Laboratory ;
http://www.etap.physik.uni-mainz.de/487_ENG_HTML.php - ETAP Mainz: Dark Matter Searches ;

http://xenon.astro.columbia.edu/ - XENON Dark Matter Project

Petra Giegerich | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/

Further reports about: Big Bang Dark Quencher WIMP XENON100 Xenon galaxy cluster

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University

nachricht Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>