Dark matter searched for in underground mine experiments

After months of experiments hunting for dark matter in a US former gold mine, scientists have finally released results.

This time last year the world's most sensitive dark matter detector was lowered into what was once the US's deepest mine, in South Dakota.

The instrument was placed inside a large water tank and has measures that shrouds it in enough insulation to isolate dark matter that would be undetectable on the surface.

The test, known as the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment, was used to answer age-old questions about the universe and its origins.

“LUX is blazing the path to illuminate the nature of dark matter,” Brown University physicist RickGaitskell, the co-spokesperson for LUX stated.

Dark matter is only known by its gravitational effect on galaxies, and is believed to be the most common form of matter in the universe.

Now after months of operating more than a mile underground, scientists say they are ready to release LUX's first-run results.

Yale University's Dan McKinsey, who works with Gaitskell, said “this is only the beginning for LUX".

LUX is searching for weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) 1.478 kilometres underground in the Sanford Lab,where few cosmic ray particles can penetrate. The detector is further protected from background radiation from the surrounding rock by immersion in a tank of ultra-pure water.

“This supremely quiet environment substantially improves our ability to see WIMPs scattering with xenon nuclei.

"Now that we understand the instrument and its backgrounds, we will continue to take data, testing for more and more elusive candidates for dark matter."



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