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Mar 06, 2019

CERN planning new experiment to look for particles associated with mysterious dark matter of universe

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The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN is planning a new experiment to look for particles associated with the mysterious dark matter which makes up about 27 per cent of the universe. 

The CERN, that hosts the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator, announced yesterday that it has approved the experiment designed to look for light and weakly interacting particles at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). LHC is a giant lab in a 27-kilometre tunnel straddling the French-Swiss border. India is an associate member in the LHC project.

The lab in a statement said, the Forward Search Experiment (FASER) will complement CERN's ongoing physics programme, extending its discovery potential to several new particles. Some of these sought-after particles are associated with dark matter, which is a hypothesised kind of matter that does not interact with the electromagnetic force and consequently cannot be directly detected using emitted light. Although astrophysical evidence shows that dark matter makes up about 27 per cent of the universe, it has never been observed and studied in a laboratory. 

Scientists said, this novel experiment will help diversify the physics programme of colliders such as the LHC, and will allow the researchers to address unanswered questions in particle physics from a different perspective. 

The four main LHC detectors are not suited for detecting the light and weakly interacting particles that might be produced parallel to the beam line. They may travel hundreds of metres without interacting with any material before transforming into known and detectable particles, such as electrons and positrons. The exotic particles would escape the existing detectors along the current beam lines and remain undetected.

The FASER detector's total length is under five metres and its core cylindrical structure has a radius of 10 centimetres. It will be installed in a side tunnel along an unused transfer line which links the LHC to its injector, the Super Proton Synchrotron. 

A collaboration of 16 institutes is building the detector and will carry out the experiments which will start taking data from LHC between 2021 and 2023.

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