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Dark Matter Scientists Unveil Three More Possible Clues To The Mystery Substance

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Apr 16, 2013 01:57 PM EDT
Merging Galaxy Cluster Abell 520
This composite image shows the distribution of dark matter, galaxies, and hot gas in the core of the merging galaxy cluster Abell 520, formed from a violent collision of massive galaxy clusters. Scientists estimate that 25 percent of the Universe is made up of dark matter. (Photo : NASA)

Deep underground Minnesota researchers have been hard at work observing the nuclei of atoms in a detector held at temperatures near that of deep space in hopes of catching a glimpse into the world of dark matter.

Estimated to make up as much as 25 percent of the Universe, dark matter has eluded scientists given its complete invisibility.

However, the group of scientists, all Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) collaborators, believe they might have found something.

In what physicists call a "three-sigma" result, the researchers have found three "signals" that should only have a 0.19 percent chance of appearing should there be no particle causing them.

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Though the finding doesn't confirm the presence of dark matter, CDMS team member Blas Cabrera, told BBC News, "It's certainly something we want to be investigating." She then added, "This is science, and the further tightening up of what we see - or excluding it - is very important for us to do."

The findings suggest that dark matter particles are smaller than often considered, in all roughly nine times that of the proton. Furthermore, they contradict those of another research group whose underground experiment in Italy called Xenon was published in Physical Review Letters.

The researchers, however, are not jumping to any conclusions.

"We're actually in a good situation in the whole of the field," BBC reported Bernard Sadoulet of the University of California Berkeley saying in reference to the four types of experiments currently being used in the quest to locate dark matter.

Moving forward the team is looking to re-install silicon in order to check on the unexpected signals.

"The fact that we're looking at changing our strategies to include silicone means it's certainly exciting," Cabrera said.

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