New hunt for dark matter: Physicists theorize a novel way to explore the nature of dark matter with lasers

phys.org | 9/10/2019 | Staff
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Dark matter is only known by its effect on massive astronomical bodies, but has yet to be directly observed or even identified. A theory about what dark matter might be suggests that it could be a particle called an axion and that these could be detectable with laser-based experiments that already exist. These laser experiments are gravitational-wave observatories.

The hunt is on for dark matter. There are many theories as to what manner of thing it might turn out to be, but many physicists believe dark matter is a weakly interacting massive particle, or WIMP. What this means is that it does not interact easily with ordinary matter. We know this to be true because it hasn't been seen directly yet. But it must also have at least some mass as its presence can be inferred by its gravitational attraction.

Efforts - WIMP - Matter - Large - Hadron

There have been enormous efforts to detect WIMP dark matter, including with the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, but WIMPs haven't been observed yet. An alternative candidate particle gaining attention is the axion.

"We assume the axion is very light and barely interacts with our familiar kinds of matter. Therefore, it is considered as a good candidate for dark matter," said Assistant Professor Yuta Michimura from the Department of Physics at the University of Tokyo. "We don't know the mass of axions, but we usually think it has a mass less than that of electrons. Our universe is filled with dark matter and it's estimated there are 500 grams of dark matter within the Earth, about the mass of a squirrel."

Axions - Candidate - Matter - Matter - Devise

Axions seem like a good candidate for dark matter, but since they may only interact very weakly with ordinary matter, they are extraordinarily difficult to detect. So physicists devise increasingly intricate ways to compensate for this lack of interaction in the hope of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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