Physicists Have Finally Seen Traces of a Long-Sought Particle. Here's Why That's a Big Deal.

Space.com | 11/25/2019 | Meredith Fore
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Scientists have finally found traces of the axion, an elusive particle that rarely interacts with normal matter. The axion was first predicted over 40 years ago but has never been seen until now.

Scientists have suggested that dark matter, the invisible matter that permeates our universe, may be made of axions. But rather than finding a dark matter axion deep in outer space, researchers have discovered mathematical signatures of an axion in an exotic material here on Earth.

Axion - Particle - Wave - Electrons - Material

The newly discovered axion isn't quite a particle as we normally think of it: It acts as a wave of electrons in a supercooled material known as a semimetal. But the discovery could be the first step in addressing one of the major unsolved problems in particle physics.

The axion is a candidate for dark matter, since, just like dark matter, it can't really interact with regular matter. This aloofness also makes the axion, if it exists, extremely difficult to detect. This strange particle could also help solve a long-standing conundrum in physics known as "the strong CP problem." For some reason, the laws of physics seem to act the same on particles and their antimatter partners, even when their spatial coordinates are inverted.This phenomenon is known as charge-parity symmetry, but existing physics theory says there's no reason this symmetry has to exist. The unexpected symmetry can be explained by the existence of a special field; detecting an axion would prove that this field exists, solving this mystery.

Scientists - Particle - Matter - Space - Telescopes

Because scientists believe that the ghostly, neutral particle barely interacts with ordinary matter, they have assumed that it would be hard to detect using existing space telescopes. So the researchers decided to try something more down to Earth, using a strange material known as condensed matter.

Condensed-matter experiments like the one the researchers conducted have been used to...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Space.com
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