Although dark matter has not been detected directly so far, scientists are still trying to find it in a variety of ways, foreign media New Atlas reported. Now, researchers at CERN, the European Organization for nuclear research, have tried a new way to find dark matter using another strange substance, antimatter.
Dark matter and antimatter are at the heart of two of the biggest unsolved mysteries in the universe. According to astronomical observations, the mass of dark matter in the universe is much greater than the mass of visible matter.
We don’t know what it is made of, but there are various theories that try to explain it, including charged particles, dark photons, overweight gravim, and even negative-mass “dark fluids.”
Antimatter, on the other hand, is so important that scientists can conduct research directly. Antimatter is the anti-state of normal matter. When positive and negative matter meets, both sides annihilate each other, explode and produce huge amounts of energy. Models suggest that an equal amount of matter and antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang, but, according to scientists’ experience, antimatter was extremely rare. So the question remains – where are all the antimatter?
For the new study, the researchers hope to explore the potential link between matter-antimatter asymmetry and dark matter. To do this, they set up an experiment similar to many other experiments in the past. Conventional experimental devices for finding dark matter include isolating particles and then carefully observing them for any anomalies that may indicate interference between dark matter.
But while past experiments have used regular matter particles, the new study replaces them with antimatter. The team used antiprotons made by the CERN antimatter plant and limited them to a device called the Penning Trap, which prevents them from touching (or annihilating) any ordinary substance. They measured the spin states of these antiprotons one by one and flipped them about a thousand times in three months.
The idea is that by taking these measurements over a long period of time, they can get the average frequency of antiproton spin. Then, if any anomalies occur during this cycle, there may be evidence that dark matter particles are interfering.
In particular, they are looking for a dark matter candidate called the “axis”. These hypothetical particles are considered neutral, very light, flowing like waves through the universe, occasionally interacting with conventional and antimatter. Since only conventional substances have been tested (which have so far been unsuccessful), the researchers tried an antimatter method to see if anything different had happened.
The team found no signals of the interaction between dark matter and antimatter. But the researchers say the experiment only means that the interaction between the axon and the antiproton does not occur between 0.1 and 0.6 (GeV), depending on the mass of the shaft.
The findings were published in the journal Nature.