Synopsis: Looking under the Antarctic ice for evidence of dark matter

Detectors buried beneath the Antarctic ice place stringent limits on the presence of dark matter particles, called neutralinos, in the sun.
Synopsis figure

In the search for dark matter, among the most interesting candidates is the neutralino, a neutral particle, predicted in supersymmetric extensions of the standard model, which interacts only weakly with other matter. Since the neutralino is expected to be stable, it may be possible to find particles that are relics of the early universe.

Theorists have predicted that the sun’s gravity can trap neutralinos, which could collect in its center and then annihilate each other. The standard-model particles created by these annihilations could subsequently decay, producing high-energy neutrinos that could escape from the sun and be detected on earth. Based on searches for these neutrinos, the IceCube Collaboration has now reported in Physical Review Letters new limits on neutralino annihilations in the sun.

The IceCube neutrino detector is located between 1.5 and 2.5km beneath the Antarctic ice, to reduce background events from cosmic rays. When muon neutrinos from the sun interact with the ice, they create relativistic charged particles (muons and showers of hadrons) that produce Cherenkov light, which is picked up by the detector. In an experiment lasting more than three months, no excess of neutrinos from the direction of the sun was detected. The experimentalists have therefore placed stringent limits on neutralino annihilations in the sun—a factor of 6 improvement over some previous limits—and from these, limits on the cross section for neutralino-proton interactions for neutralinos with masses above 250GeV. These results narrow the possibilities for dark matter. – Stanley Brown


Features

More Features »

Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Particles and FieldsAstrophysicsCosmology

Previous Synopsis

Nanophysics

Groovy nanowires

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Related Articles

Focus: Hard and Soft Bounces Explain Asteroid’s Surface Structure
Astrophysics

Focus: Hard and Soft Bounces Explain Asteroid’s Surface Structure

Experiments and computer simulations show that the segregation of small and large rocks on an asteroid’s surface can arise from the way particles hitting the surface collide with the rocks already present. Read More »

Viewpoint: Spinning Gluons in the Proton
Particles and Fields

Viewpoint: Spinning Gluons in the Proton

Computer simulations indicate that about 50% of the proton’s spin comes from the spin of the gluons that bind its quark constituents. Read More »

Synopsis: Neutrino Flashes from Exploding Stars
Astrophysics

Synopsis: Neutrino Flashes from Exploding Stars

Calculations indicate that neutrino emission from a supernova could be detected on Earth, possibly revealing how the star explodes. Read More »

More Articles