Dark matter remains one of the biggest mysteries of science, which scientists have so far been unable to decipher. Dark matter is believed to make up 85 percent of all matter in space when compared to normal matter – the same stuff humans, trees and cars are but from. But dark matter does not interact with the electromagnetic force, meaning it does not emit or reflect light. This makes detecting dark matter an incredibly tough case to crack but scientists at CERN are on the case.
The Compact Muon Solenoid or CMS is one of the four main particle detectors at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – the biggest particle accelerator in the world.
In 2012, the CMS alongside the ATLAS detector confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson particle.
Now, the CMS is now being used to hone in on dark matter through hypothetical particles known as dark photons.
The hunt is based on the idea dark matter interacts with other particles through an intermediary known as dark photons.
In the same way, regular photons interact with all of the other particles in the widely accepted Standard Model of particle physics.
If true, a dark photon should be able to weakly interact with the Standard Model particles, which includes the Higgs boson.
The CMS collaboration addressed this theory at the Large Hadron Collider Physics conference in Puebla, Mexico.
The scientists presented data sets collected between 2015 and 2018, equalling “billions and billions” of particle collisions.
The CMS team wrote in a statement: “The study of dark matter is one of the primary research topics at the CMS experiment.
“The standard model of particle physics describes the behaviour of elementary particles with incredible accuracy but provides no explanation or possible particle that can constitute dark matter.
“On the other hand, many astronomical measurements have measured that dark matter accounts for more than 80 percent of the mass in the observable universe.
“Besides its existence, physicists know very little about dark matter, due to its seemingly extremely feeble interaction with ordinary matter.”
Unfortunately, off the back of “10 quadrillion” particle collisions at the LHC, the CMS has so far been unable to find evidence of dark photons.
But this not mean the search for dark matter is over because scientists consider null results are equally important to positive yields.
The CERN physicists said: “The observed number of events does not exceed a level that can be explained from background events.
“Therefore, the results are interpreted as upper bounds on the probability that a signal would have been seen, that can in turn be translated into bounds on which dark matter scenarios are still allowed.
“That way, this null result will serve to guide further theoretical and experimental work.”