Scientists may find dark matter “catchers”

An artistic concept of CERN’s ALICE detector and anti-helium annihilation in the universe. Image courtesy of ORIGINS cluster, S. Kwauka

Dr. Laura Fabbietti (right) discusses experiments with Laura Serksnyte (center) and Stephan Konigstorfer about antihelium-3 interactions. Image courtesy of Astrid Eckert

Light antiatomic nuclei are composed of antiprotons and antineutrons. One study suggested that light antiatomic nuclei could travel long distances in the Milky Way. The results suggest that these antiatomic nuclei may be used to find dark matter. The study was published Dec. 13 in Nature Physics.

There is no natural source of antiatomic nuclei on Earth, but they would have produced elsewhere in the galaxy. It has been suggested that the antiatomic nucleus may be the result of the interaction of high-energy cosmic radiation from outside the solar system with atoms in the interstellar medium (the space between stars in galaxies). Another view is that antiatomic nuclei are formed by the annihilation of as-yet-undiscovered dark matter particles.

To explore the interaction between antinuclei and matter, the ALICE collaboration at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, analyzed antiparticles of helium-3 (a stable isotope of helium) nuclei. The researchers used particles from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to collide to create antihelium-3 nuclei, which then interacted with the material in the ALICE detector to make them disappear.

The authors determined the probability of the disappearance of antihelium-3 nuclei, and the effect of this probability on the passage of these antiatomic nuclei across the galaxy. The results show that anti-helium-3 atomic nuclear energy travels a long distance and is very suitable for searching for dark matter annihilation. (Source: China Science News, Jinnan)

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