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Quasiparticles known as magnons could help in detecting dark matter

Nearly 80% of the matter present in the cosmos has a form which is totally unknown to the physics of the present day. This is commonly known as dark matter. There have been several experiments all around the globe in an attempt to capture particle belonging to dark matter. Unfortunately, there have been no positive results. 

A group of scientists have come up with a new way of searching dark matter with the help of quasiparticles (not a real particle but something you can describe with math in that way) known as magnons. The theorists claim that these tiny so-called particles can bring out even lightweight particles of dark matter. 

Although dark matter cannot be detected directly, its evidence is visible with the help of telescopes. The first one came in the 1930s through the observation of galaxy clusters. They are one of the largest structures present in the universe. The galaxies present in these clusters are held together by the gravitational bonding which depends on the mass of the galaxies. Heavy galaxies mean stronger gravitational glues. However, it was detected that the galaxies were moving much faster than the limit set by the gravitational glue. This indicates that there must be something which is holding the clusters together and preventing them from ripping apart but not interacting or emitting light. 

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Dark matter is present in every galaxy. The visible fraction in a galaxy comprising of stars, gas clouds, dust is just a tiny fraction compared to the zillions and zillions of dark matter particles. Particles of dark matter are present all around. However, they are not noticed because they do not interact with light or charged particles. The only way of observing dark matter is through the force of gravity. Each and every form of energy and matter in the universe, dark or not is influenced by gravitational forces. 

It is also possible that some particles of the dark matter interact with weak nuclear force, the one responsible for radioactive decays. In a very large detector, if a dark matter particle is heavy it knocks out the atomic nucleus of the element, via weak nuclear force and alters the mass of the detector. However, the lack of results is worrying, as the heaviest of the candidates have been ruled out. If these mysterious particles are too light, then the present setups cannot detect it.  

Therefore scientists have come up with a setup where the material is kept at absolute zero. Here, the electrons are in the same direction. However, if enough dark matter particles strike the material it would flip some of the spins. Each of those flipped spins also causes a little ripple in the energy of the material, and those wiggles can be viewed as a quasiparticle, not a true particle, but something you can describe with math in that way. These are called magnons. Thus it can detect a lightweight particle of a dark matter if it exists. 

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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