The first results of a new dark matter-hunting experiment


A new experiment designed to search the cosmos for its most mysterious “stuff,” dark matter, has delivered its first results.
BREAD takes a “broadband” approach to search for hypothetical dark matter particles called “axions” and associated “dark photons” across a larger set of possibilities than other experiments, albeit with slightly less precision.
Related: What is dark matter?
That is in part because dark matter is effectively invisible; it doesn’t seem to interact with light, neither emitting nor reflecting standard photons.
Though our telescopes can’t detect dark matter directly, the stuff does affect stars, galaxies, and even light via its interactions with gravity.
This confusion has sent scientists on the hunt for different particles with strange properties that could comprise dark matter.
As a proof of principle, the team conducted a BREAD experiment minus the magnets needed to generate this field.
The next stage of the BREAD experiment will see the apparatus transported to the magnet facility at Argonne National Laboratory.


First findings have come from a new experiment aimed at looking for dark matter, the most enigmatic “stuff” in the universe.

However, the University of Chicago and the U.S. developed the Broadband Reflector Experiment for Axion Detection (BREAD). s. Although dark matter particles have not yet been detected by the Department of Energy’s Fermilab, the new findings tighten the constraints on the properties that scientists can anticipate these particles to possess. A relatively cheap and small-scale recipe that has the potential to be useful in the search for dark matter has also been revealed by the BREAD experiment itself.

BREAD searches a wider range of scenarios than previous experiments, albeit with marginally less precision, for hypothetical dark matter particles known as “axions” and related “dark photons” using a “broadband” methodology.

Scientist David Miller, a co-leader of the BREAD project at the University of Chicago, said in a statement, “If you think about it like a radio, the search for dark matter is like tuning the dial to search for one particular radio station, except there are a million frequencies to check through.”. “Our approach is similar to scanning 100,000 radio stations in detail as opposed to just a select few. ****.

Regarding: What is dark matter?

A small experiment to address a large issue.

Despite making up about 85% of the universe’s matter and exerting a gravitational pull that keeps galaxies from exploding as they spin, dark matter poses a significant challenge to cosmologists because we don’t fully understand its composition.

This is partly because dark matter appears to be completely invisible and neither emits nor reflects regular photons, giving the impression that it is in contact with light. Dark matter may not be made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons like those found in “normal matter” objects like stars, planets, moons, our bodies, and the cat next door, according to the absence of electromagnetic interaction.

The dark matter interacts with gravity to affect stars, galaxies, and even light, even though our telescopes are unable to directly detect it. Thus, astronomers are able to detect the presence of something, even though they are unsure of its nature. It’s another matter entirely to know what to look for and where.

Although there are a plethora of possible forms, Miller expressed confidence in the presence of something.

Scientists are searching for various particles with peculiar characteristics that might make up dark matter as a result of this uncertainty. The axion, a hypothetical particle with a very small mass, is one such candidate. If axions are real, they might interact with a “dark photon” in the same way that matter interacts with “ordinary” photons. In some situations, this interaction may occasionally result in the production of a visible photon.

BREAD is a tabletop coaxial dish antenna shaped like a curved metal tube. In order to find a subset of potential axions, photons are captured and directed toward a sensor at one end of the experiment.

A strong magnetic field will surround the equipment in the full-scale BREAD experiment, which the team believes will enhance the likelihood that axons will turn into photons. The group performed a BREAD experiment without the magnets required to create this field as a proof of concept.

The team’s appetite for the larger experiment was piqued by the intriguing data obtained during the month-long proto-BREAD experiment at the University of Chicago. The test results demonstrated that BREAD’s sensitivity in the frequency range it was intended to probe was very high.

“We have a lot of exciting experiments planned, and this is just the first step,” BREAD co-leader and Fermilab researcher Andrew Sonnenschein stated. We have a lot of suggestions for raising the axion search’s sensitivity. “.”.

The test also showed that particle physics is possible both on a tabletop and in massive particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located 27 kilometers (17 miles) underground between France and Switzerland.

Stefan Knirck, the postdoctoral scholar at Fermilab who oversaw the design and construction of BREAD, said, “This result is a milestone for our concept, demonstrating for the first time the power of our approach.”. “This type of innovative tabletop science is fantastic, as it allows a small team to impact modern particle physics while handling everything from experiment design to data analysis. ****.

The equipment for the BREAD experiment will be moved to the magnet facility at Argonne National Laboratory in the next phase. In addition, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, MIT, Caltech, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Chicago are collaborating on research and development projects for potential BREAD experiment recipes at these and other facilities.

Miller said, “There is a huge space for creative new ideas for tackling those questions because there are still so many open questions in science.”. This strikes me as a prime illustration of those kinds of innovative concepts—in this case, successful collaborations between national laboratories and universities conducting smaller-scale research. “.”.

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