Oct 27, 2020

A major milestone for an underground dark matter search experiment

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cosmology, particle physics

Crews working on the largest U.S. experiment designed to directly detect dark matter completed a major milestone last month, and are now turning their sights toward startup after experiencing some delays due to global pandemic precautions.

U.S. Department of Energy officials on Sept. 21 formally signed off on project completion for LUX-ZEPLIN, or LZ: an ultrasensitive experiment that will use 10 metric tons of liquid xenon to hunt for signals of interactions with theorized dark matter particles called WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles. DOE’s project completion milestone is called Critical Decision 4, or CD-4.

Dark matter makes up an estimated 85 percent of all matter in the universe. We know it’s there because of its observed gravitational effects on normal matter, but we don’t yet know what it is. LZ is designed to detect the two flashes of light that occur if a WIMP interacts with the nucleus of a xenon atom.

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