Context: With the help of advanced technologies and newer experiments scientists have found certain clues about dark energy and made the first putative direct detection of dark energy.
- The XENON1T experiment is the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiment and was operated deep underground at the INFN Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy.
- Scientists noticed certain unexpected results in the underground experiment and write that dark energy may be responsible for it.
- The finding also suggests that experiments like XENON1T, which are designed to detect dark matter, could also be used to detect dark energy.
Dark energy Vs Dark matter
- In the universe about 27% is dark matter and 68% is dark energy.
- While dark matter attracts and holds galaxies together, dark energy repels and causes the expansion of our universe.
- Dark energy has been noted as “the most profound mystery in all of science”.
How did they make the detection?
- Last year, the XENON1T experiment reported an unexpected signal.
- Scientists saw that at energies around ~2 keV there are way more events than one expects simply due to noise and this could be due to dark energy.
- Though these sorts of excesses are often flukes, but once in a while they can also lead to fundamental discoveries.
What if the signal was caused by some other force?
- Chameleon screening: The team constructed a physical model, which used a screening mechanism known as chameleon screening, to show that dark energy particles produced in the Sun’s strong magnetic fields could explain the signal seen in XENON1T.
- Fifth force: There are four fundamental forces in our universe, and speculative theories have proposed a fifth force – something that can’t be explained by the four forces.
- To hide or screen this fifth force, many models for dark energy use special mechanisms.
- Other Projects: Scientists are hopeful that upcoming upgrades to the XENON1T experiment and similar experiments such as LUX-Zeplin – a next generation dark matter experiment located at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, and PandaX-xT – another project at China Jinping Underground Laboratory could help directly detect dark energy within the next decade.
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