Latest dark matter search comes a bit short of discovery

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2013-04-22

One of the detectors that will be used in the next iteration of this hunt for dark matter.

The evidence for dark matter is comprehensive. We've measured its effect on galaxies and galaxy clusters, and we've seen its imprint in gravitational lenses and the cosmic microwave background. The annoying thing is that we still don't know what it is. All the evidence indicates that dark matter is likely to be a weakly interacting massive particle (or WIMP), but the best we've found when searching for this particle is a few intriguing hints of evidence.

In the latest hint, the people behind a detector that sits deep in a Minnesota mine say they've observed three events that appear likely to be the faint impact of dark matter particles. Unfortunately, by every measure they try, the significance of these events falls short of discovery. We're therefore left waiting for better detectors and more data—just as we were the last time this team announced a similar result.

Since the evidence indicates that dark matter is a particle (after all, it had to be around before there were even atoms in order to influence the cosmic microwave background), researchers have focused on three ways we might detect a particle that doesn't fit into the existing Standard Model. One track involves searches through the data in the LHC, looking for signs that some of the mass produced in a collision is being carried away by something we can't detect. So far, that hunt has come up blank.

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