New insights into dark matter emerge as researchers explore the “dark.” Photon“A hypothesis that challenges the standard model hypothesis.
A team of international researchers, led by experts from the University of Adelaide, has discovered further clues in the quest for insights into the nature of dark matter.
“Dark matter makes up 84% of the matter in the universe, but we know so little about it,” said Professor Anthony Thomas, Senior Professor of Physics at the University of Adelaide.
“The existence of dark matter has been firmly established through its gravitational interactions, yet its precise nature still eludes us despite the tireless efforts of physicists around the world.”
“The key to understanding this mystery could lie in the dark photon, a massive theoretical particle that may serve as a gateway between the dark sector of particles and ordinary matter.”
“Our work shows that the dark photon hypothesis is preferable to the Standard Model hypothesis at 6.5 sigma, which constitutes evidence for particle detection.” — Professor Anthony Thomas
The dark photon and its importance
Ordinary matter, which makes up us and our physical world, is much less abundant than dark matter: there is five times more dark matter than ordinary matter. Discovering more about dark matter is one of the biggest challenges facing physicists around the world.
The dark photon is a hypothetical hidden sector particle, proposed as a force carrier similar to the electromagnetic photon but likely related to dark matter. Testing existing theories about dark matter is one approach taken by scientists like Professor Thomas, along with colleagues Professor Martin White, Dr Shuangong Wang and Nicholas Hunt-Smith, who are members of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Center of Excellence. The dark matter particle physics team is seeking to More evidence about this elusive but very important substance.
Insights from particle collisions
“In our latest study, we investigated the potential effects that a dark photon could have on the full range of experimental results generated by the process of deep inelastic scattering,” Professor Thomas said.
Analyzing the byproducts of collisions of particles accelerated to extremely high energies gives scientists a good clue to the structure of the subatomic world and the laws of nature that govern it.
In particle physics, deep inelastic scattering is the name given to a process used to probe the interior of hadrons (particularly baryons, such as protons and neutrons), using electrons, muons and neutrinos.
“We took advantage of the state-of-the-art Jefferson Lab Angular Momentum (JAM) global analysis framework, modifying the fundamental theory to allow for the possibility of a dark photon,” Professor Thomas said.
“Our work shows that the dark photon hypothesis is preferable to the Standard Model hypothesis at 6.5 sigma, which constitutes evidence for particle detection.”
The team, which includes scientists from the University of Adelaide and colleagues at the Jefferson Laboratory in Virginia, USA, published its findings in the journal Journal of High Energy Physics.
Reference: “Global QCD Analysis and Dark Photons” by N. T. Hunt-Smith and W. Melnitchouk and N. Sato, AW Thomas, XG Wang, and MJ White on behalf of the Jefferson Lab Angular Momentum (JAM) collaboration, September 15, 2023, Journal of High Energy Physics.
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