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CERN Develops New Instrument To Hunt For Dark Matter

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The European Organization for Nuclear Research announced the development of an instrument that will look for particles that are related to dark matter.

CERN houses the Large Hadron Collider or LHC, which is the world's most powerful particle machine. It is located in a 17-mile tunnel passing through the French-Swiss border.

Dark Matter League

Scientists estimate that 68 percent of the universe composed of dark energy and 27 percent is dark matter. The rest makes up everything that is visible in the universe.

CERN's search is focused on "light and weakly interacting particles" that are potentially related to dark matter. Forward Search Experiment or FASER will perform these high-sensitive searches to detect such particles.

"This novel experiment helps diversify the physics program of colliders such as the LHC, and allows us to address unanswered questions in particle physics from a different perspective," said Mike Lamont, co-coordinator of the Physics Beyond Collider study.

The goal is to find the so-called neutralinos and dark photons. The experiment is expected to start between 2021 and 2023.

Better Detectors

Currently, the four LHC detectors cannot detect light and weakly interacting particles. With FASER, physicists will be able to study these particles before they transform into more known states like electrons and positrons.

CERN said that FASER will use spare detector parts donated by ATLAS and LHCb experiments to speed up the construction process and lower the costs.

The actual detector is 5 meters long, while the core cylinder has a radius of 10 centimeters. FASER will be built alongside its injector, the Super Proton Synchrotron.

Dark matter is studied as early as the 1930s, but scientists are yet to determine its composition.

"We only know that if dark matter is a particle, then it must have mass, since it interacts with other matter through the force of gravity," CERN reported.

Researchers are able to produce new information by observing their interactions with other matter particles in space. Simulations were conducted in a controlled laboratory environment to better understand dark matter.

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