FRIDAY, 19 JUNE 2020The standard model of particle physics describes our reality in terms of fundamental forces and particles — but searching for these elementary particles is no mean feat! Scientists have employed many methods in order to detect them, a famous example being the high-energy particle collisions at CERN that resulted in the discovery of the Higgs boson.
A recent study in Cambridge took a rather different approach: instead of examining the small, Professor Christopher Reynolds and colleagues looked to the vast expanse of the cosmos. These researchers were searching for axions, hypothetical particles that could resolve many unanswered questions, such as that of the ‘strong interaction’ (a fundamental force) and ‘dark matter’ (undetected matter in the universe). The study aims to detect axions from characteristic distortions in the X-ray radiation spectrum emitted from galaxy clusters. Although the researchers were not able to confirm the existence of axions, they managed to place the most sensitive limits to date on the particle’s properties. While searching for elementary units in the immenseness of the cosmos may seem like a ‘needle in a haystack’ approach, it is not a novel one — the element Helium was discovered from the Sun’s radiation spectrum back in 1868.
By: Shamil Shah and Adiyant Lamba