“Dark matter detector picks up unexplained new signal”, UChicago News

June 17, 2020

By Maggie Hudson

The XENON1T detector, tucked into an Italian mountainside to search for signs of a mysterious substance in the universe called dark matter, has picked up a new bump in the data that cannot be explained by current models.

An analysis of this excess signal, led by physicists from the University of Chicago, the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Zurich and vetted by the entire XENON collaboration, suggests that it may be evidence of new physics—or an unexpected radioactive contaminant. The results were announced in a seminar on June 17.

“An excess signal is always something exciting! Sometimes you discover that the excess is just due to an unknown background, or it may be a sign of a fundamental new discovery about our universe,” said Assoc. Prof. Luca Grandi, a study co-author. “What we see is a solid and significant excess above our expectations; however, XENON1T is not sensitive enough to discriminate between the various potential origins.”

Image credit: XENON Collaboration

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