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Dark matter detector picks up 'unexpected' and unexplained signal – CNET

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The detector at Gran Sasso 


Xenon Collaboration

An underground dark matter experiment, about a mile below Italy’s Abruzzo mountains, has detected unexplained “excess events,” hinting at the possibility researchers have stumbled upon some tantalizing new physics. The Xenon1T experiment, as it’s known, has a track record for interesting physics observations. Last year, it observed “the rarest event ever recorded” — but background data gathered by the machine may have gone one better.

In a new study, published on the preprint server arXiv and yet to be peer-reviewed, researchers with the Xenon collaboration report a new, currently unexplainable event within the detector they don’t yet fully understand. Now, that doesn’t mean they’ve found dark matter — this event may be explained by contamination within the experiment — but there are two interesting possibilities.  

“This is exciting science for sure, even if it is mostly a cliffhanger of a result that requires more data,” says Samuel Hinton, an astrophysicist at the University of Queensland who was not associated with the study.   

The Xenon1T experiment consists of a cylindrical tank filled with over 6,000 pounds of liquid xenon cooled to -139 degrees Fahrenheit (-95 degrees Celsius). It’s so far underground that it blocks out any radioactive interference that could mess with potential dark matter measurements. Around 85% of the universe is thought to consist of dark matter but it is mysterious and invisible. We know it exists because of its effects on matter we can see — but we have no idea what it is or what particles might make it up.

Researchers looked at measurements taken by Xenon1T during a science run between February 2017 and February 2018. The amount of events observed was much higher than expected. The team saw 285 events, against an expected maximum of around 247. 

“This is really a rather surprising result,” said Rafael Lang, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Purdue University and co-author on the study, in a release.    

That led the team to ask and explore: Where did this “excess” of low-energy events come from? They believe there are three possibilities for the excess:

  • Tritium, a rare hydrogen isotope, may be an artifact in the data. 
  • Solar axions, a theoretical particle produced in the sun which hasn’t been detected before. 
  • New properties detected in neutrinos, subatomic particles that pass through basically everything. 

“The excess might be due to small traces of tritium, but the idea that we might be sitting on something more exotic is really exciting for us,” said Luca Grandi, a physicist at the University of Chicago and co-author on the study. 

Tritium does seem to form in similar dark matter experiments deep underground and this would be the mundane possibility, but the concentration cannot be measured in the experiment. Instead, the researchers write, their calculations suggest tritium would be too small to account for the energy excess. 

The best fit for the data, according to the team, is the solar axions hypothesis. A solar axion is a hypothetical particle generated in the core of the sun with a low mass that could help explain dark matter. The energy excess seems to point toward detection of this elusive and mysterious particle — but scientists can’t say for sure.

“If we need a summary of the entire result, I would at the moment put almost all my money on tritium being the explanation, but still am hopeful that it’s not,” Hinton said. 

The Xenon1T detector was shut down in December 2018 and is in the process of getting an upgrade that is more sensitive — it will contain more liquid xenon and a lower radioactive background — and the researchers believe this will help pull the results apart a little more and give a more definitive answer. There’s a chance it will confirm these results are new physics, a major breakthrough decades in the making. But scientists are cautious, and patience is key.


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Newfoundland and Labrador premier tries to allay border fears – SaltWire Network

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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

Peter Jackson

Local Journalism Iniative Reporter

peter.jackson@thetelegram.com

@pjackson_nl

As controversy continues to swirl around the prospect of opening Canada’s domestic borders, Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier and health minister are striving to allay fears.

On Wednesday, the premier fielded questions about a date that was tossed out last month around the same time the province announced it was joining an Atlantic bubble.

The opening of Atlantic regional borders, which allows permanent residents of all four provinces to travel freely without self-isolating, took effect July 3.

But Dwight Ball said a proposed opening of all provincial borders on July 17 has not been part of recent discussions.

“We know that around the province right now there’s considerable fear in opening up those borders,” he said this week. “We recognize from a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective that the areas that will line up and have more travellers come into our province would be from provinces like Alberta, provinces like Ontario.”

However, he said there has been talk lately about when, or even if, that may happen.

“First and foremost, I can assure people in Newfoundland and Labrador, it will be the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that will be the priority and will be what will influence the decision made by all of us before we ease any more travel restrictions.”

Ban not total

Ball also touched on a common misconception about travel into and out of the province since a travel ban was implemented on May 15. At least 8,000 exemptions have been granted to non-residents, for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t include the fact that residents are free to travel outside the province and return again.

“Keep in mind we have a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that leave the province and go visit families in Alberta and Ontario and other places,” he said. “They can leave. There’s no restriction on leaving. The restriction is when they come back.”

Any person arriving from outside the Atlantic bubble, including those who’ve passed through the region from elsewhere, are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The premier also clarified that five new cases in P.E.I. last weekend stemmed from a U.S. citizen who had arrived legally in Halifax and was picked up by family members from P.E.I. The island province turned him back at its border, so he returned to self-isolate in Halifax. Another P.E.I. resident was confirmed positive on Thursday, stemming from the same cluster.

“I think the officials within all of the Maritime provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. — will clearly say and articulate that what happened with this traveller was not at all connected to the Atlantic bubble,” Ball said.

New Brunswick also reported one new case on Thursday, stemming from travel.

Air travel

Meanwhile, a nursing professor at Memorial University had some thoughts this week on the safety of flying with strangers as airlines start filling planes again.

The issue made headlines last weekend when a Halifax man decided to walk off a plane rather than fly in close quarters with passengers from outside the Atlantic bubble.

“I have mixed feelings about airplanes, and I travel a lot,” Donna Moralejo, who specializes in infection control, said in an interview.

Moralejo said the air in a plane is actually safer than most households because of built-in filtration systems. But surface contacts must be avoided, and close proximity means masks are essential.

“It’s probably not as unsafe as it sounds, given the airflow, but it’s less than ideal, especially on longer flights,” she said.

Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering health for The Telegram.

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Newfoundland and Labrador premier tries to allay border fears – The Telegram

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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

Peter Jackson

Local Journalism Iniative Reporter

peter.jackson@thetelegram.com

@pjackson_nl

As controversy continues to swirl around the prospect of opening Canada’s domestic borders, Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier and health minister are striving to allay fears.

On Wednesday, the premier fielded questions about a date that was tossed out last month around the same time the province announced it was joining an Atlantic bubble.

The opening of Atlantic regional borders, which allows permanent residents of all four provinces to travel freely without self-isolating, took effect July 3.

But Dwight Ball said a proposed opening of all provincial borders on July 17 has not been part of recent discussions.

“We know that around the province right now there’s considerable fear in opening up those borders,” he said this week. “We recognize from a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective that the areas that will line up and have more travellers come into our province would be from provinces like Alberta, provinces like Ontario.”

However, he said there has been talk lately about when, or even if, that may happen.

“First and foremost, I can assure people in Newfoundland and Labrador, it will be the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that will be the priority and will be what will influence the decision made by all of us before we ease any more travel restrictions.”

Ban not total

Ball also touched on a common misconception about travel into and out of the province since a travel ban was implemented on May 15. At least 8,000 exemptions have been granted to non-residents, for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t include the fact that residents are free to travel outside the province and return again.

“Keep in mind we have a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that leave the province and go visit families in Alberta and Ontario and other places,” he said. “They can leave. There’s no restriction on leaving. The restriction is when they come back.”

Any person arriving from outside the Atlantic bubble, including those who’ve passed through the region from elsewhere, are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The premier also clarified that five new cases in P.E.I. last weekend stemmed from a U.S. citizen who had arrived legally in Halifax and was picked up by family members from P.E.I. The island province turned him back at its border, so he returned to self-isolate in Halifax. Another P.E.I. resident was confirmed positive on Thursday, stemming from the same cluster.

“I think the officials within all of the Maritime provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. — will clearly say and articulate that what happened with this traveller was not at all connected to the Atlantic bubble,” Ball said.

New Brunswick also reported one new case on Thursday, stemming from travel.

Air travel

Meanwhile, a nursing professor at Memorial University had some thoughts this week on the safety of flying with strangers as airlines start filling planes again.

The issue made headlines last weekend when a Halifax man decided to walk off a plane rather than fly in close quarters with passengers from outside the Atlantic bubble.

“I have mixed feelings about airplanes, and I travel a lot,” Donna Moralejo, who specializes in infection control, said in an interview.

Moralejo said the air in a plane is actually safer than most households because of built-in filtration systems. But surface contacts must be avoided, and close proximity means masks are essential.

“It’s probably not as unsafe as it sounds, given the airflow, but it’s less than ideal, especially on longer flights,” she said.

Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering health for The Telegram.

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4 thriller objects spotted in deep room, compared with nearly anything at any time seen – haveeruonline

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Astronomers are baffled about 4 objects that were noticed in deep room by a enormous radio telescopes, stories mentioned.

LiveScience.com documented on Thursday that the highly circular objects that appear vibrant alongside the edges had been found when astronomers reviewed archival info from radio telescopes in Australia and India.

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Kristine Spekkens, an astronomer from the Royal Military services College or university of Canada and Queen’s College, told the science internet site that the objects look to be a little something not nevertheless probed.

“It could also be that these are an extension of earlier known course of objects that we have not been in a position to discover,” she claimed. Researchers have referred to the objects as ORCs, or “odd radio circles.”

The Australian astronomers in the study noted that the objects ended up uncovered though functioning on the Evolutionary Map of the Universe Pilot, an all-sky continuum study, working with a square kilometer array pathfinder telescope.

The objects ended up described as circular, “edge-brightened discs.” They do not “correspond to any recognized style of object.” Two of them are reasonably close together, which could point out some relation. Two also attribute “an optical galaxy in the vicinity of the center of the radio emission.”

“We speculate that they could represent a spherical shock wave from an more-galactic transient occasion, or the outflow, or a remnant, from a radio galaxy considered finish-on,” the experts wrote.

The scholarly papers ended up posted on Arxiv.org.

The paper lists a several possible explanations but dismisses them. They theorized that it could be a supernova remnant, galactic planetary nebula or a deal with-on star-forming galaxy or ring galaxy.

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The face-on star-forming galaxy principle, for case in point, was dashed, in part, owing to the “lack of measurable optical emission” in comparison to the radio emission.

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