Now that scientists have found the Higgs boson, BigThe Hadron Collider will search for an even more elusive target: dark matter. We are surrounded by dark matter and dark energy - invisible substances that bind galaxies, but do not give themselves away. The new work presents an innovative method of searching for dark matter by the Large Hadron Collider due to the exploitation of the relatively slow speed of a potential particle.
The dark world of dark matter
"We know for sure that there is a dark world andthere is more energy in it than in ours, ”says Lien-Tao Wong, a professor of physics at the University of Chicago who studies the search for signals in large particle accelerators like the LHC. The work was published in Physical Review Letters.
Although the dark world is more than 95% of the universe,Scientists are aware of its existence only by the effects it has - like a poltergeist, which is visible only if something moves on the shelf or when the light blinks. For example, we know about the existence of dark matter, because we see its gravitational effect - it helps our galaxies not to scatter into parts.
Theorists believe that there is one special kinda dark particle that can periodically interact with ordinary matter. It will be harder and will exist longer than other known particles - up to one tenth of a second. According to scientists, several times a decade, such a particle can be caught in proton collisions at the LHC, which occur and are measured constantly.
"One particularly interesting opportunity is tothat these long-lived dark particles are somehow related to the Higgs boson — that Higgs is actually a portal to the dark world, ”says Wong, referring to the last particle discovered by physicists in the great theory of the Universe. The Higgs boson was discovered at the LHC in 2012. "Perhaps Higgs can really break up into these long-lived particles."
The only problem is thatto separate these events from the rest; in the 27-kilometer LHC, more than a billion collisions occur per second, and each of them sends sub-atomic splashes in all directions.
Scientists have proposed a new way to search,using one particular aspect of such a dark particle. "If it is so heavy, its production requires energy, so the impulse will not be large - it will move slower than the speed of light," says Jia Liu, the first author of the study.
This time delay will set it apart.other particles. Scientists will only need to correct the system to search for produced particles. The difference lies within a nanosecond — one billionth of a second — or less. But the LHC already has enough sophisticated detectors to catch the difference; a recent study using data collected during the last start of the collider showed that this method should work, plus the detectors will become even more sensitive after the upcoming modernization.
“We expect this method to increase oursensitivity to long-lived dark particles by several orders of magnitude - while using the capabilities that already exist in BAC, ”says Liu. Experimenters are already working on creating a trap. When the LHC switches on again in 2021, after increasing the luminosity 10 times, all three main detectors will be equipped with a new system.
“We think there is great potential for discovery. If there is a particle, we will have a way to extract it. ”
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