The LUX-ZEPLIN experiment is the world’s largest dark matter detector. It’s searching for a particular type of hypothetical dark matter particle, called Weakly Interacting Massive Particles.
Located deep beneath the Black Hills of South Dakota, the world’s largest dark matter detector has begun operations to hunt for this elusive and mysterious form of matter.
The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment is especially attuned to detect a particular type of hypothetical dark matter particle, called Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, or WIMPs. The detector first began operations in December 2021, and its first results are in. The findings, published on the LZ experiment website, prove it to be the most sensitive dark matter probe in the world—sensitive enough, its operators hope, to directly detect dark matter for the very first time. In the process, the 250 or so scientists that operate LZ could solve one of science’s most pressing questions.
The dark matter puzzle is so important to physicists because the ordinary baryonic matter that comprises the everyday “stuff” we see around us—as well as all of the universe’s planets, stars, and gas clouds—makes up only 5 percent of its matter and energy budget. The rest represents the so-called “dark universe” made up of mysterious dark energy and dark matter.