An international team of researchers, led by experts from the University of Adelaide, is delving into the mysterious world of dark matter in hopes of unraveling its nature. Despite the established gravitational interactions of dark matter, which constitutes 84% of the matter in the universe, scientists are still perplexed by it. Professor Anthony Thomas, Elder Professor of Physics at the University of Adelaide, explains that the elusive dark matter could be better understood through the exploration of dark photons, theoretical massive particles that could act as a link between the dark sector of particles and regular matter.

Regular matter, which makes up our physical world, is significantly less abundant than dark matter, with five times more dark matter present. Unraveling the mysteries surrounding dark matter is one of the most important challenges for physicists worldwide. Dark photons, being hypothetical particles of the hidden sector similar to the photon of electromagnetism, are considered as possible force carriers connected to dark matter.

As part of their research, Professor Thomas and his colleagues from the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics, including Professor Martin White, Dr. Xuangong Wang, and Nicholas Hunt-Smith, are investigating existing theories about dark matter to gain a better understanding of this crucial substance. Their latest study focuses on the potential impact that dark photons could have on the experimental results of the deep inelastic scattering process. This process involves examining the interior of hadrons, such as protons and neutrons, by accelerating particles to extremely high energies and analyzing the products of their collisions.

The team used the Jefferson Lab Angular Momentum (JAM) global parton distribution function analysis framework to modify the underlying theory and accommodate the possibility of a dark photon. Their research indicates that the dark photon hypothesis is more favorable than the standard model hypothesis, providing evidence for a possible particle discovery.

The team’s findings have been published in the Journal of High Energy Physics. The continued exploration of dark photons and their connection to dark matter could lead to a better understanding of these enigmatic phenomena and their role in the universe.

– N. T. Hunt-Smith et al, Global QCD analysis and dark photons, Journal of High Energy Physics (2023).
– University of Adelaide