Researchers have started a new search in the United States for the mysterious material known as dark matter.
Scientists believe that dark matter makes up most of the mass in the universe. But they haven’t directly observed the material yet. Astronomers have theorized that dark matter exists because of the observed effects of gravity on galaxies and groups of galaxies.
The search takes place in a former gold mine in the midwestern state of South Dakota. The experiment aims to isolate dark matter inside a reservoir located about a kilometer and a half underground.
The scientists designed the experiment to block almost all cosmic rays and particles that are supposed to move around our world every day. The hope is that by blocking these materials, dark matter particles will appear in the isolation reservoir.
The experiment, called LUX-ZEPLIN, is being conducted at Sanford’s underground research facility. If successful, the team said, dark matter will produce a reaction involving the element xenon. The researchers said dark matter would produce a flash of light and be seen by a device called a “time projection.” bedroom.”
Scientists recently announced that the five-year, $60 million research effort has finally begun after delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research team members said the device has yet to identify dark matter. But the equipment appears to block out most of the background radiation the researchers hoped to block.
“To search for this very rare type of interaction, task number one is to first get rid of all ordinary sources of radiation, which overwhelm experience,” said project member Carter Hall. He is a physicist at the University of Maryland.
The researchers said they expected only a few signs of dark matter to appear per year. The team of 250 scientists estimates that the operation will produce 20 times more data in the future.
During the experiment, the chance of finding dark matter with the device is “probably less than 50%, but more than 10%,” said Hugh Lippincott. He is a physicist and spokesperson for the project.
Kevin Lesko is a physicist at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. He told The Associated Press that finding dark matter is far from a sure thing. But Lesko said scientists “need a little enthusiasmto continue. “You don’t go into rare research physics without hope of finding something.”
Another team member, physicist Aaron Manalaysay, explained the importance of xenon to the experiment. He said the element will allow researchers to see if particle collisions occurring in the reservoir hit a xenon electron or its nucleus. If something hits the nucleus, it’s more likely to be the dark matter everyone is looking for, Manalaysay said.
Scientists attempted a similar, smaller experiment in the same location years ago. After this experiment produced no dark matter, the scientists decided to go much further. Another great experiment is currently being carried out in Italy. The scientists leading this project have yet to announce any results.
Manalaysay explained that even with a small chance of success, it’s important for scientists to keep looking. He said this is because it will be nearly impossible to fully understand the history and development of the universe without identifying dark matter.
I am Brian Lynn.
The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.
words in this story
isolate – v. to put or keep (someone or something) in a place or situation that is separate from others
cosmic ray – nm high-energy particles that move through space at almost the speed of light
bedroom – nm a confined room or enclosed space used for a particular purpose
ordinary – adj. not special, different or unusual in any way
overwhelm – v. give too much of something to someone
enthusiasm – nm the feeling of being very interested in something and really wanting to get involved in it
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