Elena Aprile (Columbia University), the leader of XENON1T, the most sensitive dark-matter experiment conducted to date,
is being honored with the 2019 Lancelot M. Berkeley – New York Community Trust Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy. The motivation of American Astronomical Society underlines her leadership of the XENON project and its groundbreaking search for the weakly interacting massive particles (“WIMPs”) thought to make up the mysterious dark matter that appears to provide most of the universe’s gravitational pull. As described in the paper “First Dark Matter Search Results from the XENON1T Experiment," published in Physical Review Letters in 2017 and already cited by more than 300 other research papers, her team has built ever-more-sensitive detectors looking for flashes of light caused by dark-matter particles passing through ever-larger quantities of liquid xenon and bouncing off xenon atoms.
The XENON project, leaded by prof. Aprile, is hosted since its first small-scale version (XENON10 in 2005) in the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (Gran Sasso National Laboratory, LNGS) in Italy, which is operated by the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (National Institute for Nuclear Physics, INFN).