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Scientists observe 'rarest event ever recorded'


Posted on Wednesday, 24 April, 2019 | Comment icon 9 comments

The XENON1T Time Projection Chamber. Image Credit: XENON Collaboration
An extremely rare event has been observed by scientists working on unraveling the mysteries of dark matter.
The discovery centers around the radioactive decay of xenon-124 - a process that is so ridiculously slow that it takes more than one trillion times the age of the universe.

The opportunity to see this decay in action therefore is unbelievably rare.

The breakthrough was made by researchers at the XENON dark matter research project which uses an instrument known as XENON1T to help find direct evidence of dark matter.

The facility is located 500 meters beneath the Gran Sasso mountains in Italy and the instrument itself is buried in water to help shield it from cosmic rays. The goal of this setup is to observe the interaction between dark matter atoms and the nucleus of the xenon atoms inside the detector.

What the researchers saw in this case however was a proton inside the nucleus of a xenon atom changing in to a neutron - an event described as "a rare thing multiplied by another rare thing."

"We actually saw this decay happen," said study co-author Ethan Brown.

"It's the longest, slowest process that has ever been directly observed, and our dark matter detector was sensitive enough to measure it."

Source: Independent | Comments (9)

Tags: Xenon

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Vlad the Mighty on 24 April, 2019, 19:01
Theresa May getting her Brexit deal approved?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Taun on 24 April, 2019, 19:43
@Vlad the Mighty I was going to respond "A politician with their hand in their own pocket" - but yours works too!
Comment icon #3 Posted by AllPossible on 24 April, 2019, 19:58
Very cool but I'm more amazed that there's a dark matter detector. What started that lol who created it? Is it like a radar gun?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Rolci on 25 April, 2019, 8:13
I have been waiting for this for soooo many years!
Comment icon #5 Posted by NCC1701 on 25 April, 2019, 15:51
The event is not so rare if you have zillions of xenon atoms, like apparently in this chamber. Then there will be allways one that has reached its halflife and decays. The trick is to detect that one decay.
Comment icon #6 Posted by RabidMongoose on 25 April, 2019, 16:09
Its not often that you make me laugh but you just did.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps on 25 April, 2019, 16:40
Never knew a proton could decay into a neutron. Beddy interestink!
Comment icon #8 Posted by tmcom on 26 April, 2019, 12:02
I thought it was NASA telling the truth, my mistake carry on.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Impedancer on 26 April, 2019, 12:43
They found the real Darth Vader join the dark side of the force or was it farce.


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