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Chi's dark matter probe detects mysterious sigls

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  1 Dec 2017 12:00 AM GMT

Beijing, Nov 30: A Chinese satellite which was sent to the skies to look for evidence of the annihilation or decay of dark matter particles in space has detected unexpected and mysterious sigls in its measurement of high-energy cosmic rays, bringing scientists closer to proving the existence of the invisible matter.

The mysterious dark matter is believed to comprise a quarter of universe. The satellite, Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE), also called Wukong or "Monkey King", has measured more than 3.5 billion cosmic ray particles with the highest energy up to 100 tera-electron-volts (TeV), including 20 million electrons and positrons, with unprecedented high energy resolution, Xinhua reported.

Precise measurement of cosmic rays, especially at the very high energy range, are important for scientists to look for traces of dark matter annihilation or decay, as well as to understand the universe's most energetic astrophysical phenome, such as pulsars, active galaxy nuclei and supernova explosions.

"DAMPE has opened a new window for observing the high-energy universe, unveiling new physical phenome beyond our current understanding," Chang Jin, Chief Scientist of DAMPE and Vice Director of the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said. The initial detection results on the precise measurement of the electron and positron spectrum in an energy range between 25 giga-electron-volts (GeV) and 4.6 TeV were published in the latest issue of the jourl ture.

"Our data may inspire some new ideas in particle physics and astrophysics," said Chang. Dark matter, which cannot be seen or touched, passes right through us as if we do not exist. The ghost-like material is one of the great mysteries of science. Scientists calculate that normal matter -- such as galaxies, stars, trees, rocks and atoms -- accounts for only about five per cent of the universe. However, about 26.8 per cent of the universe is dark matter and 68.3 per cent dark energy.

Chi sent DAMPE into an orbit of about 500 kilometres above the earth on December 17. Based on the satellite's data, scientists drew the cosmic ray electron and positron spectrum. To their surprise, scientists found a break at around 0.9 TeV and a strange spike at around 1.4 TeV on the spectrum. "We never expected such sigls," Chang said. (IANS)

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