New Antimatter Experiment at Large Hadron Collider Will Help With the Search for Dark Matter

A view of the underground ALICE detector used in the study of the antideuteron
Credit: CERN

The ALICE collaboration has presented new results on the production rates of antideuterons based on data collected at the highest collision energy delivered so far at the Large Hadron Collider. The antideuteron is composed of an antiproton and an antineutron. The new measurements are important because the presence of antideuterons in space is a promising indirect signature of dark matter candidates. The results mark a step forward in the search for dark matter.

Recent astrophysical and cosmological results point towards dark matter being the dominant form of matter in the universe, accounting for approximately 85% of all matter. The nature of dark matter remains a great mystery, and cracking its secrets would open a new door for physics.

Detecting antideuterons in space could be an indirect signature of dark matter, since they could be produced during the annihilation or decay of neutralinos or sneutrinos, which are hypothetical dark matter particles.

Various experiments are on the hunt for antideuterons in the Universe, including the AMS detector on the International Space Station. However, before inferring the existence of dark matter from the detection of these nuclei, scientists must account for both their rates of production by other sources (namely, collisions between cosmic rays and nuclei in the interstellar medium) and the rates of their annihilation caused by encountering matter on their journey. In order to assert that the detected antideuteron is related to the presence of dark matter, the production and annihilation rates must be well understood.

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