Feeds

Sixty-seven WIMPs spotted in the wild, maybe

Dark matter has slim evidence, cautious optimism

Intelligent flash storage arrays

It’s not quite enough evidence to constitute a discovery, but scientists working on the CRESST experiment think they may have spotted Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs).

WIMPs are one of they key theories to account for the “missing stuff” of the Universe. The amount of baryonic matter we observe with telescopes is too small to generate enough gravity to hold large structures like galaxies together, so astrophysicist have long hypothesized the nature of the matter and energy we can’t see.

The physicists’ prediction is that the WIMP would not carry either of the “strong” forces – the electromagnetic or strong nuclear force – and would only interact with gravity or the weak nuclear force. That makes it very difficult to detect, since the WIMP's interactions with other matter are uncommon.

CRESST’s (the Cyrogenic Rare Event Search with Superconducting Thermometers) search uses 300-gram crystals of calcium tungstenate – CaWO4 – cooled close to absolute zero, and located around 1,400 meters underground to minimize background noise from cosmic rays.

It’s also dark, which is handy because one of the very small signals the detector seeks is flashes of scintillation light given off after a particle collides with the crystal.

In this paper, CRESST says it has detected 67 particle interactions that can’t be attributed to noise in its observation run, which ran from June 2009 to April 2011. All of these were in the energy range below 40 keV (kilo-electron volts) that the experimenters consider the “acceptance range” for WIMPs.

Some of these, the authors state, can be associated with the decay of isotopes in the detector materials. They propose improving both their detector material (using crystals made from zinc tungstenate) and removing from the instrument possible sources of impurities that could have introduced decaying isotops (for example, bronze clamps).

Whether these are WIMPs or just random observations will probably have to wait for the next detector run. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.