Exploring our dark universe is often the domain of extreme physics. Traces of dark matter particles are searched for by huge neutrino telescopes located underwater or under Antarctic ice, by scientists at powerful particle colliders, and deep underground. Clues to mysterious dark energy will be investigated using big telescopes on Earth and experiments that will be launched into space.
But an experiment doesn’t have to be exotic to explore the unexplained. At the International Conference on High Energy Physics, which ended today in Paris, scientists unveiled the first results from the GammeV-CHASE experiment, which used 30 hours’ worth of data from a 10-meter-long experiment to place the world’s best limits on the existence of dark energy particles.
CHASE, which stands for Chameleon Afterglow Search, was constructed at Fermilab to search for hypothetical particles called chameleons. Physicists theorize that these particles may be responsible for the dark energy that is causing the accelerating expansion of our universe.
“One of the reasons I felt strongly about doing this experiment is that it was a good example of a laboratory experiment to test dark energy models,” says CHASE scientist Jason Steffen, who presented the results at ICHEP. “Astronomical surveys are important as well, but they’re not going to tell us everything.” CHASE was a successor to Fermilab’s GammeV experiment, which searched for chameleon particles and another hypothetical particle called the axion.
See: Lighting up the dark universe by Katie Yurkewicz Posted in ICHEP 2010
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