A brief test proves that the new LUX-ZEPLIN dark matter detector is the most sensitive detector ever built.This may be our best bet for finally finding dark matter particles
July 7, 2022
The hunt for dark matter just got a new pair of eyes.Testing of the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) detector in South Dakota shows it is the most sensitive dark matter detector It hasn’t been created yet, and researchers are getting ready to open it up and start looking in earnest.
LZ consists of a huge titanium tank filled with 10 tons of poles Pure liquid xenonWhen particles outside the canister strike the xenon atoms, it produces a beam of light that is measured by a series of detectors around the canister. The properties of that light can then be analyzed to determine what type of particles are causing it. To protect the xenon gas from particles and radiation that we know do not come from dark matter, the tank is surrounded by a larger tank of pure water, buried in ancient gold mines more than a kilometer underground.
“The center of the LZ is the purest place on Earth, perhaps in the solar system. There is no other space on this planet or this planet that is free of radiation and dust,” said LZ team members. Jam Kaulgarg at University College London. “We can only deal with about 1 gram of dust in the detector — 3 grams of dust, we won’t be able to find anything.”
Decades of hunting dark matter particles There has been no success so far, so researchers set out to make more and more sensitive detectors. The 3.5-month test, which ended in April, showed that LZ was by far the most sensitive. “We’ve been collecting data for months, and when we look at it, we’re like, ‘Oh, damn — we’re already the best in the world,'” Ghag said. “It’s like if you build a new car and drive around the block and then go fast around the block, you’re breaking the world land speed record.”
However, no matter the sensitivity, three months is not enough to actually find dark matter. Even if some did pass the detector during that time, we don’t have enough data to know what it was, Ghag said.
“It’s kind of weird now that we’re saying we’re the best people in the world at finding nothing,” he said. “But the prospect of discovering new physics a few years from now is entirely feasible.”
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