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HomeNewsAstronomy and SpaceResearchers report profitable startup of dark matter detector at underground analysis facility

Researchers report profitable startup of dark matter detector at underground analysis facility

Members of the LZ staff within the LZ water tank after the outer detector set up. Credit: Matthew Kapust/Sanford Underground Research Facility

Deep under the Black Hills of South Dakota within the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), an modern and uniquely delicate dark matter detector—the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment, led by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab)—has handed a check-out phase of startup operations and delivered first outcomes.

The take-home message from this profitable startup: “We’re ready and everything’s looking good,” mentioned Berkeley Lab senior physicist and previous LZ spokesperson Kevin Lesko. “It’s a complex with many parts to it and they are all functioning well within expectations,” he mentioned.

In a paper posted on-line at this time on the experiment’s web site, LZ researchers report that with the preliminary run, LZ is already the world’s most delicate dark matter detector. The paper will seem on the web preprint archive arXiv.org later at this time. LZ spokesperson Hugh Lippincott of the University of California Santa Barbara mentioned, “We plan to collect about 20 times more data in the coming years, so we’re only getting started. There’s a lot of science to do and it’s very exciting.”

Dark matter particles have by no means truly been detected—however maybe not for for much longer. The countdown might have began with outcomes from LZ’s first 60 “live days” of testing. These knowledge had been collected over a three-and-a-half-month span of preliminary operations starting on the finish of December. This was a interval lengthy sufficient to substantiate that every one points of the detector had been functioning properly.

Unseen, as a result of it doesn’t emit, take in, or scatter gentle, dark matter’s presence and gravitational pull are nonetheless basic to our understanding of the universe. For instance, the presence of dark matter, estimated to be about 85 % of the total mass of the universe, shapes the shape and motion of galaxies, and it’s invoked by researchers to clarify what is thought concerning the large-scale construction and growth of the universe.

Berkeley Lab researchers record successful startup of LUX-ZEPLIN dark matter detector at Sanford Underground Research Facility
Looking up into the LZ Outer Detector, used to veto radioactivity that may mimic a dark matter sign. Credit: Matthew Kapust/Sanford Underground Research Facility

The coronary heart of the LZ dark matter detector is comprised of two nested titanium tanks stuffed with ten tons of very pure liquid xenon and seen by two arrays of photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) in a position to detect faint sources of sunshine. The titanium tanks reside in a bigger detector system to catch particles that may mimic a dark matter sign.

“I’m thrilled to see this complex detector ready to address the long-standing issue of what dark matter is made of,” mentioned Berkeley Lab Physics Division Director Nathalie Palanque-Delabrouille. “The LZ team now has in hand the most ambitious instrument to do so.”

The design, manufacturing, and set up phases of the LZ detector had been led by Berkeley Lab challenge director Gil Gilchriese in conjunction with a global staff of 250 scientists and engineers from over 35 establishments from the US, UK, Portugal, and South Korea. The LZ operations supervisor is Berkeley Lab’s Simon Fiorucci. Together, the collaboration is hoping to make use of the instrument to report the primary direct proof of dark matter, the so-called lacking mass of the cosmos.

Henrique Araújo, from Imperial College London, leads the UK teams and beforehand the final phase of the UK-based ZEPLIN-III program. He labored very intently with the Berkeley staff and different colleagues to combine the worldwide contributions. “We started out with two groups with different outlooks and ended up with a highly tuned orchestra working seamlessly together to deliver a great experiment,” Araújo mentioned.

An underground detector

Tucked away a few mile underground at SURF in Lead, S.D., LZ is designed to seize dark matter within the type of (WIMPs). The experiment is underground to guard it from cosmic radiation on the floor that would drown out dark matter alerts.

Berkeley Lab researchers record successful startup of LUX-ZEPLIN dark matter detector at Sanford Underground Research Facility
(Left) A schematic of the LZ detector. (Right) Illustration of LZ operation—particles work together in liquid xenon, releasing a flash of sunshine and cost which are collected by photomultiplier tube arrays at high and backside. Credit: Left schematic: LZ collaboration. Right picture: LZ/SLAC

Particle collisions within the xenon produce seen scintillation or flashes of sunshine, that are recorded by the PMTs, defined Aaron Manalaysay from Berkeley Lab, who as physics coordinator, led the collaboration’s efforts to provide these first physics outcomes. “The collaboration worked well together to calibrate and to understand the detector response,” Manalaysay mentioned. “Considering we just turned it on a few months ago and during COVID restrictions, it is impressive we have such significant results already.”

The collisions may even knock electrons off xenon atoms, sending them to float to the highest of the chamber below an utilized electrical area the place they produce one other flash allowing spatial occasion reconstruction. The traits of the scintillation assist decide the varieties of particles interacting within the xenon.

Mike Headley, govt director of SURF Lab, mentioned, “The entire SURF team congratulates the LZ Collaboration in reaching this major milestone. The LZ team has been a wonderful partner and we’re proud to host them at SURF.”

Fiorucci mentioned the onsite staff deserves particular reward at this startup milestone, provided that the detector was transported underground late in 2019, simply earlier than the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He mentioned with journey severely restricted, just a few LZ scientists may make the journey to assist on web site. The staff in South Dakota took wonderful care of LZ.

“I’d like to second the praise for the team at SURF and would also like to express gratitude to the large number of people who provided remote support throughout the construction, commissioning and operations of LZ, many of whom worked full time from their home institutions making sure the experiment would be a success and continue to do so now,” mentioned Tomasz Biesiadzinski of SLAC, the LZ detector operations supervisor.

Berkeley Lab researchers record successful startup of LUX-ZEPLIN dark matter detector at Sanford Underground Research Facility
The LZ central detector within the clear room at Sanford Underground Research Facility after meeting, earlier than starting its journey underground. Credit: Matthew Kapust, Sanford Underground Research Facility

“Lots of subsystems started to come together as we started taking data for detector commissioning, calibrations and science running. Turning on a new experiment is challenging, but we have a great LZ team that worked closely together to get us through the early stages of understanding our detector,” mentioned David Woodward from Pennsylvania State University, who coordinates the detector run planning.

Maria Elena Monzani of SLAC, the Deputy Operations Manager for Computing and Software, mentioned, “We had amazing scientists and software developers throughout the collaboration, who tirelessly supported data movement, data processing, and simulations, allowing for a flawless commissioning of the detector. The support of NERSC [National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center] was invaluable.”

With affirmation that LZ and its techniques are working efficiently, Lesko mentioned, it’s time for full-scale observations to start in hopes {that a} dark matter particle will collide with a xenon atom within the LZ detector very quickly.

A major milestone for an underground dark matter search experiment

More info:
D.S. Akerib et al, The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.nima.2019.163047

Projected WIMP sensitivity of the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) dark matter experiment, arXiv:1802.06039v2 [astro-ph.IM] doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.1802.06039

Researchers report profitable startup of dark matter detector at underground analysis facility (2022, July 7)
retrieved 7 July 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-07-successful-startup-dark-detector-underground.html

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