Has dark matter finally been found?

February 19, 2013

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (left) (credit: NASA)

Big news in the search for dark matter may be coming in about two weeks, the leader of a space-based particle physics experiment said Feb. 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Space.com reports.

That’s when the first paper of results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a particle collector mounted on the outside of the International Space Station, will be submitted to a scientific journal, said MIT physicist Samuel Ting, AMS principle investigator.

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station has the potential to detect the positrons and electrons produced by dark matter annihilations in the Milky Way. Installed  in May 2011, it has detected 25 billion particle events so far, including about 8 billion electrons and positrons. This first science paper will report how many of each were found, and what their energies are, Ting said.

If the experiment detected an abundance of positrons peaking at a certain energy, that could indicate a detection of dark matter, because while electrons are abundant in the universe around us, there are fewer known processes that could give rise to positrons.