Sending atomic clocks close to the Sun could reveal the secret of dark matter

Dark matter is an invisible substance that researchers believe makes up approximately five-sixths of all matter in the universe. Although dark matter has never been directly observed, its existence can be known through the effects of gravity on the movement of stars and galaxies; But the composition of dark matter still remains a mystery. According to Yu Dai Sai, a physicist at the University of Irvine, California, the discovery of dark matter will be one of the greatest achievements in human history.

In a new study, researchers have proposed a new way to discover the nature of dark matter using the most accurate clocks ever made. While older clocks kept time with oscillating pendulums, the atomic clock monitors the quantum oscillations of atoms. Currently, the best atomic clock is so accurate that only one second of time is lost every 300 billion years.

Atomic clocks are regularly sent into space. For example, GPS satellites depend on atomic clocks to broadcast precisely timed messages that each GPS receiver uses for positioning.

Physicists in their new research proposed a probe called SpaceQ to be placed in an orbit close to the sun. NASA has just sent the Parker Probe to the Sun. This spacecraft broke the record of coming closer to the Sun than any other probe and for the first time in 2021 it flew through the solar corona, the Sun’s super hot upper atmosphere. Joshua Ebi, a physicist at the University of Tokyo in a conversation with said:

Ultralight ghostly particles are one of the leading candidates for dark matter. For example, a hypothetical particle called an axion might have a mass of less than a billionth of an electron. Theoretical physicists proposed the nature of axions to help explain interactions between certain particles. If this kind of dark matter exists, you can imagine us floating in its waves, says Sai.

If dark matter is made of ultralight particles, the incorporeal nature of these particles makes it very difficult to detect this matter. However, since the Sun is much heavier than our planet with a mass of 330,000 times that of the Earth, it has a stronger gravitational pull. Thus, the Sun can reveal more dark matter than the Earth. This enormous density allows probes close to the Sun to detect these ghostly particles.

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