New breakthrough in dark matter mystery

Last Updated: Sunday, July 21, 2013 - 16:10

Washington: Researchers on two separate Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments have succeeded in finding the evidence of the process, which scientists have been seeking for 25 years.

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced in Switzerland this morning that researchers on two separate LHC experiments succeeded in measuring the decay of B-subscript-s mesons into two muons.

The evidence matches predictions made using the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

That match, with only a 1-in-100,000 chance of being caused by a statistical error, virtually eliminates any possibility that B-sub-s meson decay is related to interaction with particles predicted by dark matter theories, as some physicists have suspected.

The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), an LHC component that played a role in last year`s discovery of the Higgs boson, is one of the two experiments that captured the new data. (The other is the LHCb experiment.)

Rice scientists have spent decades designing components for the CMS and are now enjoying the chance to help analyze the results.

According to a statement by CERN , for every billion B-sub-smesons produced, only three or so are expected to decay into two muons, heavier cousins of the electron.

That expectation is confirmed by the new data. Physicists look for results inconsistent with those predicted by the Standard Model to expand knowledge of the physical world - but that didn`t happen here.

That it precisely matches the model `places constraints on supersymmetric and other models that could explain dark matter in the universe, Rice physicist Paul Padley, a co-investigator on the CMS experiment, said.

Padley noted that only the LHC is sensitive enough to detect B-sub-s decay, and it will be much more sensitive when updates to the collider - including CMS improvements provided by Rice - are complete in 2015.

The findings have been submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters.


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First Published: Sunday, July 21, 2013 - 16:10

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