Saturday, December 26, 2015

Science: At Least They're Honest

The detector is the best there is at non-detections of dark matter

“We have improved the sensitivity of LUX by more than a factor of 20 for low-mass dark matter particles, significantly enhancing our ability to look for WIMPs,” said Rick Gaitskell, professor of physics at Brown University and co-spokesperson for the LUX experiment, in a statement.

“It is vital that we continue to push the capabilities of our detector in the search for the elusive dark matter particles.”

The new research is described in a paper submitted to Physical Review Letters and available on ArXiv. The team has re-examined the data collected during the first 95-day search in 2013 and was able to rule out low-mass WIMPs previously reported to be detected.

The detector consists of a tank filled with 370 kilograms (815 pounds) of xenon surrounded by 61 photomultiplier tubes. On very rare occasions a WIMP hits a xenon atom, and as the atom recoils it emits a flash of light which is detected by the tubes.

LUX has not detected a single WIMP yet, but its unmatched sensitivity allowed the team to rule out vast mass ranges that WIMPs might have. The detector is the best there is at non-detections of dark matter, as weird as that may sound.

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