LUX- the best dark matter detector has been upgraded to become even better. As a result of some new techniques it became 20 times more sensitive.
LUX, formally named the Large Underground Xenon experiment is made out of liquid xenon, being located in a former gold mine, one mile under Lead, South Dakota, in the Stanford Underground Research Facility – or more simple, just SURF.
LUX is looking for WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles) produced in the Big Bang which are still around in the Universe. The team operating LUX is waiting to observe dark matter interactions.
Dark matter makes up the majority of the matter in the universe – around 85 percent, while the visible matter is the rest 15 percent. Even if dark matter is invisible, researchers can track its gravitational influence on the galaxies. Another sign of its existence can be observed by analyzing the way it interferes with light travelling through the universe.
The name of WIMP has been given by the fact that the failure of discovering its interactions suggest they are very rare of weak.
Scientists hope that with the new upgrades received by LUX they will be able to observe better the interactions between dark matter and visible matter. Being more sensitive, LUX can now observe weaker interactions so its chances of spotting WIMPs are increased.
LUX represents a collaboration among 19 research facilities, including national laboratories and universities in the United States, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
LUX is located under 4,850 feet of rock which protects him from cosmic radiation that could interfere with dark matter’s signal. The experiment is also protected by a shield of water and also by its outer liquid xenon.
Light sensors, or photomultipliers in LUX are waiting to detect flashes of light emitted when a particle of dark matter collides with a xenon nucleus.
Some of the new upgrades received by LUX include the injection of tritiated methane and of krypton, two radioactive gases which will help LUX to distinguish better signals produced by radioactivity from the environment and a potential signal of dark matter.
The new upgrades, combined with advanced computer simulations at both Berkeley and Brown’s University allow scientists to test more particle models which can be excluded from the search, making LUX even more accurate in the future.
Image source: pixabay