Could a new proposed particle help to detect dark matter?

Could a new proposed particle help to detect
dark matter?
29 January 2015
could explain why no one has managed to detect
'Dark Matter', the elusive missing 85 per cent of the
Universe's mass.
Dark Matter is thought to exist because of its
gravitational effects on stars and galaxies,
gravitational lensing (the bending of light rays)
around these, and through its imprint on the
Cosmic Microwave Background (the afterglow of
the Big Bang).
A massive cluster of yellowish galaxies, seemingly
caught in a red and blue spider web of eerily distorted
background galaxies, makes for a spellbinding picture
from the new Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. To make this
unprecedented image of the cosmos, Hubble peered
straight through the center of one of the most massive
galaxy clusters known, called Abell 1689. The gravity of
the cluster's trillion stars — plus dark matter — acts as a
2-million-light-year-wide lens in space. This gravitational
lens bends and magnifies the light of the galaxies
located far behind it. Some of the faintest objects in the
picture are probably over 13 billion light-years away
(redshift value 6). Strong gravitational lensing as
observed by the Hubble Space Telescope in Abell 1689
indicates the presence of dark matter. Credit: NASA, N.
Benitez (JHU), T. Broadhurst (Racah Institute of
Physics/The Hebrew University), H. Ford (JHU), M.
Clampin (STScI),G. Hartig (STScI), G. Illingworth
(UCO/Lick Observatory), the ACS Science Team and
Researchers at the University of Southampton
have proposed a new fundamental particle which
Despite compelling indirect evidence and
considerable experimental effort, no one has
managed to detect Dark Matter directly. Particle
physics gives us clues to what Dark Matter might
be, and the standard view is that Dark Matter
particles have a very large mass for fundamental
particles, comparable to that of heavy atoms.
Lighter Dark Matter particles are considered less
likely for astrophysical reasons, although
exceptions are known, and this research highlights
a previously unknown window where they could
exist and, with very general arguments from particle
physics, derives some surprising results.
The research is published in Scientific Reports.
The proposed particle has a mass of 100eV/c^2,
only about 0.02 per cent that of an electron. While it
does not interact with light, as required for Dark
Matter, it does interact surprisingly strongly with
normal matter. Indeed, in stark contrast to other
candidates, it may not even penetrate Earth's
atmosphere. Earth-bound detection is therefore not
likely, so the researchers plan to incorporate
searches into a space experiment planned by the
Macroscopic quantum resonators (MAQRO)
consortium, with whom they are already involved. A
nanoparticle, suspended in space and exposed
directly to the flow of Dark Matter, will be pushed
downstream and sensitive monitoring of this
particle's position will reveal information about the
nature of this Dark Matter particle, if it exists.
Dr James Bateman, from Physics and Astronomy
at the University of Southampton and co-author of
the study, says: "This work brings together some
very different areas of physics: theoretical particle
physics, observational x-ray astronomy, and
experimental quantum optics. Our candidate
particle sounds crazy, but currently there seem to
be no experiments or observations which could rule
it out. Dark Matter is one of the most important
unsolved problems in modern physics, and we
hope that our suggestion will inspire others to
develop detailed particle theory and even
experimental tests."
Dr Alexander Merle, co-author from the Max Planck
Institute in Munich, Germany, adds: "At the
moment, experiments on Dark Matter do not point
into a clear direction and, given that also the Large
Hadron Collider at CERN has not found any signs
of new physics yet, it may be time that we shift our
paradigm towards alternative candidates for Dark
Matter. More and more particle physicists seem to
think this way, and our proposal seems to be a
serious competitor on the market."
Dark Matter may be a problem to be understood by
crossing fields and looking for hidden possibilities.
Dr Bateman adds: "Also from this point of view, the
paper comprises a milestone on the history of our
department: for the first time there has been a
publication involving authors from all three groups
in Physics and Astronomy, which shows how
valuable it can be to cross boundaries and to look
beyond one's own field."
More information: "On the Existence of LowMass Dark Matter and its Direct Detection."
Scientific Reports 5, 8058.…
Provided by University of Southampton
APA citation: Could a new proposed particle help to detect dark matter? (2015, January 29) retrieved 6
February 2015 from
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