The MiniBooNE search for dark matter

This schematic shows the experimental setup for the dark matter search. Protons (blue arrow on the left) generated by the Fermilab accelerator chain strike a thick steel block. This interaction produces secondary particles, some of which are absorbed by the block. Others, including photons and perhaps dark-sector photons, symbolized by V, are unaffected. These dark photons decay into dark matter, shown as χ, and travel to the MiniBooNE detector, depicted as the sphere on the right.

Some theorists speculate that dark matter particles could belong to a “hidden sector” and that there may be portals to this hidden sector from the Standard Model. The portals allow hidden-sector particles to trickle into Standard Model interactions. A large sensitive particle detector, placed in an intense particle beam and equipped with a mechanism to suppress the Standard Model interactions, could unveil these new particles.

By Ranjan Dharmapalan and Tyler Thornton