Uranium is a metal whose half-life of around 4 billion years can be used to measure the age of different materials on Earth. To be able to calculate the age of something correctly, it takes a few hundred atoms. Now, scientists decided to use xenon, a noble gas, to determine the decay of dark matter. The plan was to observe a sporadic event when a dark matter particle bumped a xenon atom.
Two tonnes of the liquid XENON1T were placed in a tank set up underground in Italy. Precautions included removing any radioactive contaminants from the liquid xenon.
Decays are nuclear transformations where an element drops lower on the periodic table, while electron captures involve losing an electron that will fuse with a proton, the result being a neutron. This way, the atom is left with a hole in its electron collection. To solve this problem, an electron from an outer layer is pulled down. This process releases photons and a neutrino, which is awfully difficult to detect.
Why Are Neutrinos Important In The Study Of Dark Matter?
Scientists show a great interest in neutrinos, and they are discussing whether neutrinos and antineutrinos are different particles, or the same particles spinning differently.
If neutrinos and antineutrinos are the same, they would be destroyed in the eventuality of coming in contact with one another. This reaction would produce a photon that can indicate the exact value of the neutrino’s mass
Assumingly, xenon is one of the few elements that could go through a double electron absorption, resulting in tellurium.
Slowly Reaching A Discovery
After a year of receiving data, researchers managed to come close to a confirmation of the phenomenon. However, the detections were enough to determine the half-life of dark matter, which is estimated to be about a trillion times the life of the Universe.