COUPP-60: New dark matter detector begins search for invisible particles

May 02, 2013
Image of the first particle interactions seen in the COUPP-60 detector, located half a mile underground at SNOLAB in Ontario, Canada. Photo: SNOLAB

(Phys.org) —Scientists this week heard their first pops in an experiment that searches for signs of dark matter in the form of tiny bubbles. Scientists will need further analysis to discern whether dark matter caused any of the COUPP-60 experiment's first bubbles.

"Our goal is to make the most to see signals of particles that we don't understand," said Hugh Lippincott, a postdoc with the 's Fermi National Laboratory who has spent much of the past several months leading the installation of the one-of-a-kind detector in a laboratory a mile and a half underground.

COUPP-60 is a dark-matter experiment funded by DOE's Office of Science. managed the assembly and installation of the experiment's detector.

The COUPP-60 detector is a jar filled with purified water and CF3I—an ingredient found in fire extinguishers. The liquid in the detector is kept at a temperature and pressure slightly above the , but itrequires an extra bit of energy to actually form a bubble. When a passing particle enters the detector and disturbs an atom in the clear liquid, it provides that energy.

Dark-matter particles, which scientists think rarely interact with other matter, should form individual bubbles in the COUPP-60 tank.

"The events are so rare, we're looking for a couple of events per year," Lippincott said.

Other, more common and interactive particles such as are more likely to leave a trail of multiple bubbles as they pass through.

The COUPP-60 detector installed at the SNOLAB underground laboratory in Ontario, Canada. Photo: SNOLAB

Over the next few months, scientists will analyze the bubbles that form in their detector to test how well COUPP-60 is working and to determine whether they see signs of dark matter. One of the advantages of the detector is that it can be filled with a different liquid, if scientists decide they would like to alter their techniques.

The COUPP-60 detector is the latest addition to a suite of dark-matter experiments running in the SNOLAB underground science laboratory, located in Ontario, Canada. Scientists run dark-matter experiments underground to shield them from a distracting background of other particles that constantly shower Earth from space. Dark-matter particles can move through the mile and a half of rock under which the laboratory is buried, whereas most other particles cannot.

Scientists further shield the COUPP-60 detector from neutrons and other particles by submersing it in 7,000 gallons of water.

Scientists first proposed the existence of dark matter in the 1930s, when they discovered that visible matter could not account for the rotational velocities of galaxies. Other evidence, such as gravitational lensing that distorts our view of faraway stars and our inability to explain how other galaxies hold together if not for the mass of dark matter, have improved scientists' case. Astrophysicists think dark matter accounts for about a quarter of the matter and energy in the universe. But no one has conclusively observed .

The COUPP experiment includes scientists, technicians and students from the University of Chicago, Indiana University South Bend, Northwestern University, University of Valencia, Virginia Tech, , Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and SNOLAB.

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vacuum-mechanics
1 / 5 (13) May 02, 2013
Scientists first proposed the existence of dark matter in the 1930s, when they discovered that visible matter could not account for the rotational velocities of galaxies. Other evidence, such as gravitational lensing that distorts our view of faraway stars and our inability to explain how other galaxies hold together if not for the mass of dark matter, have improved scientists' case. Astrophysicists think dark matter accounts for about a quarter of the matter and energy in the universe. But no one has conclusively observed dark-matter particles.

It seems that dark matter is not particle, but rather be the continuum of vacuum space energy (dark energy) which also manifest as gravitational effect. Here it is the rotational property of the dark energy, in which not difficult to understand as below.
http://www.vacuum...14〈=en
Fabio P_
5 / 5 (10) May 02, 2013
Just. Shut. Up.
hemitite
not rated yet May 02, 2013
I wonder what the mass range of DM particles this detector is supposed to be sensitive to?
be4r
5 / 5 (2) May 02, 2013
How would they differentiate between neutrino interaction and potential dark matter? If we don't know the exact mass of the neutrino, and we don't even have the slightest clue about dark matter, you couldn't calculate based on bubble size.
Nanowill
1 / 5 (6) May 02, 2013
There is a simple proof CDM particles do not exist, why is nobody interested in this? My guess is you can get funds by chasing phantoms but the funds vanish as soon as they are proven not to exist. People still fund Big Foot searches!!!
Physics is increasingly making a fool of itself and unfortunately will suffer catastrophic consequences. Major funding cuts imminent?
Silverhill
5 / 5 (6) May 03, 2013
OK, provide that "simple proof" (from an unbiased, competent source, of course).
Terratian
4 / 5 (2) May 03, 2013
COUPP-60 is already making detections of particles. See link below with pictures:

http://www.symmet...cle-pops

They will be analyzing the bubbles to determine if any where caused by dark matter.
ant_oacute_nio354
1 / 5 (4) May 03, 2013
Dark matter doesn't exist.
Stop spent a lot of money looking for gousts.
Antonio Jose Saraiva
A galaxy is not a solar system with all the mass at the center.
In a galaxy the mass increases with distance.
DarkHorse66
3 / 5 (2) May 07, 2013
What's that strange babbling noise in the post just before mine? Did somebody forget to medicate this morning? Sounds like the latest phys.org kook is out on day release as well. Again. It is making no sense whatsoever. Just what kind of a point is it trying to make, especially since it is assuming that we are all so dumb &ignorant that we don't(apparently) know the difference between a solar system & a galaxy??And how is that supposed to relate/contribute to the context of this discussion?(since it is about DETECTING these particles)Anyway, although there might be much less DM in our vicinity, that does NOT imply that it has to be absent altogether!The whole point of this experiement is to 'see' what kind of data might be found,by catching some of those(perhaps sparsely present) 'ghosts'. Correct me if I am wrong, but weren't neutrinos described as 'ghostly' at one point in time, too?But we still looked for them. We still found them.And we learnt more about them. Regards,DH66