Hamburg researchers in search of dark matter


Dark matter is thought to play a crucial role in the universe. But nobody has found it yet. But that could change soon, because dark matter is currently being searched for in Hamburg.

At least since the first space journey, a new fascination with space has emerged. Is there life out there? How was the earth formed? Or: Does the universe mainly consist of a vacuum? Many research areas have meanwhile formed around these questions. However, there is still one big mystery: dark matter.

It is estimated that this makes up a large part of the universe. However, there is still no solid evidence for this. Because nobody has really seen dark matter. But that could soon change at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg. As part of the “Any Light Particle Search II” (Alps II) experiment, researchers are looking for this very material.

Hamburg: How is dark matter formed?

The former Hera particle accelerator is used, in which 24 superconducting magnets do their work. These are evenly distributed in two 120 meter long vacuum tubes. A laser then emits a strong light in a vacuum tube, which is reflected by an optical resonator and amplified in this way.

Due to the twelve superconducting magnets, it is then possible for some photons in the light to be converted into so-called axions. Since the axions interact relatively weakly with other matter, they enter the second vacuum tube through a light-tight wall. There, the magnets then convert it again into photons.

Chances of success are relatively small

If a detector in the second magnet tube recognizes photons, these must have been axions at some point in the course of the experiment. Dark matter would thus be proven. Even if the chances of a successful experiment are relatively slim, the researchers want to try.

Because the project is long-term. The system will only reach its full sensitivity in the second half of 2023. In 2024, the researchers also want to improve the mirror system used. If the proof succeeds despite the small chance, the research team would be a candidate for the Nobel Prize.

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