The existence of dark matter is one of the greatest mysteries faced by modern science. Although there are many premises which suggest the existence of dark matter particles, like the anomalies in movement of galaxy clusters, gravitational microlensing in apparently empty space, and analyses of cosmic microwave background, scientists have yet to perform a direct observation of these particles.
Several years ago, a group of researchers from the Jagiellonian University as well as Californian Universities in Berkeley and East Bay have formulated a hypothesis according to which dark matter has not yet been observed not because of low accuracy and sensitivity of performed experiments, but rather because of an entirely different set of signals these particles might generate. They posited that signals related to ‘topological dark matter’, i.e. objects made up of dark matter with a structure similar to planets or stars, would manifest as temporary or oscillatory disturbances of the experimental signals. Because of the previously used techniques and methodologies, these signals could not be identified during experiments.
To register dark matter-related temporary and oscillatory signals, the researchers needed to come up with a completely methodology. One of the challenges was to develop a sensor with both high sensitivity and rapid response (large frequency). Another was limiting the amount of static present in every experimental measurement. To achieve that, Dr hab. Szymon Pustelny, along with his colleagues from the JU Department of Photonics, proposed establishing a global network of sensors that would enable comparing data collected in places located hundreds or even thousands kilometres from each other in search of dark matter. This would allow researchers to gather data of unprecedented quality with equally unprecedented precision. It would also allow them to study previously unanalysed theoretical models.
Although five years have passed since the idea first came to light, establishing the network took a long amount of time. However, today the network comprises 14 running experiments on four continents. So far, the results of this impressive research endeavour have allowed the investigation of several theoretical models. Some of these analyses have already been published, while some others are in their final stages. Soon, we will the results of every experiment and we will be able to determine the veracity of theories regarding the existence of topological dark matter.
More information on the project can be found in the latest issue of CERN Courier.