CERN, which hosts the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, is planning a new experiment to look for particles associated with the mysterious dark matter which makes up about 27 per cent of the universe, the European Physics lab said.
The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced on Tuesday that it has approved the experiment designed to look for light and weakly interacting particles at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — a giant lab in a 27-kilometre tunnel straddling the French-Swiss border.
FASER, or the Forward Search Experiment, will complement CERN’s ongoing physics programme, extending its discovery potential to several new particles, the lab said in a statement. Some of these sought-after particles are associated with dark matter, which is a hypothesised kind of matter that does not interact with the electromagnetic force and consequently cannot be directly detected using emitted light.
Astrophysical evidence shows that dark matter makes up about 27 per cent of the universe, but it has never been observed and studied in a laboratory. With an expanding interest in undiscovered particles, particularly long-lived particles and dark matter, new experiments have been proposed to expand the scientific potential of CERN’s accelerator complex and infrastructure as part of the Physics Beyond Collider (PBC) study, under whose aegis FASER operates.
“This novel experiment helps diversify the physics programme of colliders such as the LHC, and allows us to address unanswered questions in particle physics from a different perspective,” Mike Lamont, co-coordinator of the PBC study group, said in a statement.
The four main LHC detectors are not suited for detecting the light and weakly interacting particles that might be produced parallel to the beam line, he said.