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A team of Italian and Chinese physicists on Wednesday renewed a controversial claim that they had detected the mysterious dark matter particles that astronomers say swaddle the galaxies in halos and direct the evolution of the universe.
The team, called Dama, from “DArk MAtter,” and led by Rita Bernabei of the University of Rome, has maintained since 2000 that a yearly modulation in the rate of flashes in a detector nearly a mile underneath the Gran Sasso mountain in Italy is the result of the Earth’s passage through a “wind” of dark matter particles as it goes around the Sun. Other groups of hunters of dark matter have just as consistently failed to find any evidence of the putative particles.
At a meeting in Venice, Dr. Bernabei reported that a new, bigger experiment named Dama/Libra had now observed the same modulation. “No other experiment whose result can be directly compared in a model-independent way is available so far,” she said. The findings increase the chances that the modulation is real, outside dark matter experts say.