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Researchers say dark energy may be responsible for mysterious experimental signals

Experiment XENON1T.

Cambridge University Physicists Suspect Dark Energy May Confuse Results XENON1T experiment, a series of underground vats of xenon that are used to search for dark matter.

Dark matter and dark energy are two of the most discussed problems in modern physics. Two darkness are placeholder names for the mysterious something which seem to influence the behavior of the universe and everything in it. Dark matter refers to the seemingly invisible mass that makes itself felt only due to gravitational effects. Dark energy refers to the as-yet unexplained cause of the accelerating expansion of the universe. It is believed that dark matter makes up about 27% of the universe, and dark energy 68%. according to NASA

Physicists have several ideas to explain dark matter: axions, WIMP, SIMP and primordial black holes, to name a few. But dark energy is much more mysterious, and now the team of researchers working on the XENON1T data says the unexpected excess in activity could be due to this unknown force, rather than any dark matter candidate. The team’s research was published this week in Physical Review D.

The XENON1T experiment, buried beneath the Apennines in Italy, is tuned to stay as far away from any noise as possible. It consists of tanks of liquid xenon, which ignites upon interaction with a passing particle. As previously reported by Gizmodo, in June 2020, the XENON1T team reported that the project is seeing more interactions than it should be under the Standard Model of physics, which means it might detect theoretical subatomic particles like axions – or something might be wrong with experiment.

“Such excesses are often by fluke, but from time to time they can also lead to fundamental discoveries,” said Luca Vizinelli, a researcher at the Frascati National Laboratories in Italy and co-author of the study at the University of Cambridge. release… “We investigated a model in which this signal could be associated with dark energy rather than the dark matter that the experiment was originally designed to detect.”

“First we need to know that this was not just an accident,” added Vizinelli. “If XENON1T really saw something, you would expect to see a similar excess again in future experiments, but this time with a much stronger signal.”

Despite the fact that dark energy makes up a significant part of the universe, it has not yet been identified. Many models suggest that there may be a fifth force beyond the known four known fundamental forces in the universe, one that is latent until you get to some of the largest-scale phenomena. how an ever faster expansion of the universe

Axions emanating from the Sun seemed like a possible explanation for the excess signal, but there were gaps in the idea, as it would require rethinking what we know about stars. “Even our sun would not agree with the best theoretical models and experiments as it does now,” said one researcher. said to Gizmodo last year

Part of the problem finding dark energy are “chameleon particles” (also known as solar axions or solar chameleons), named for their theoretical ability to change mass depending on the amount of matter around them. This would increase the mass of the particles when passing through a dense object such as Earth and will reduce their force on the surrounding masses, since New Atlas explained in 2019A recent research group has built a model that uses chameleon screening to explore how dark energy behaves on scales much larger than the dense local universe.

“Our chameleon shielding stops the production of dark energy particles in very dense objects, avoiding the problems faced by solar axions,” said lead author Sunny Vagnozzi, a cosmologist at the Kavli Institute of Cosmology in Cambridge, at the university. release… “It also allows us to separate what happens in the local very dense universe from what happens on the largest scales, where the density is extremely low.”

The model allowed the team to understand how XENON1T would behave if dark energy was produced in the magnetically strong region of the Sun. Their calculations showed that dark energy can be detected using the XENON1T.

Since the surplus was first discovered, the XENON1T team “tried in every way to destroy it,” as one researcher put it. told The New York Times… The persistence of the signal causes both bewilderment and excitement.

“The authors offer an exciting and interesting opportunity to expand the scope of dark matter detection experiments towards the direct detection of dark energy,” Zara Baghdasaryan, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, who is not associated with a recent article, told Gizmodo by email. “A case study of excess XENON1T is definitely not convincing and we need to wait for more data from other experiments to test the validity of the solar chameleon idea.”

The next generation XENON1T, dubbed XENONnT, is about to pass its first experimental tests. later this year… We hope that the experiment updates will remove any noise and help physicists figure out exactly what is wrong with the underground detector.

Read more: What is dark matter and why has no one found it yet?

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