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DE-SC0017811: Thermal Dark Matter from Colliders to Astrophysics

Award Status: Inactive
  • Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
  • DUNS: 001912864
  • Most Recent Award Date: 04/08/2019
  • Number of Support Periods: 2
  • PM: Kilgore, William
  • Current Budget Period: 04/01/2018 - 05/31/2019
  • Current Project Period: 06/01/2017 - 05/31/2019
  • PI: Buckley, Matthew
  • Supplement Budget Period: N/A

Public Abstract

The gravitational evidence for dark matter is convincing proof of physics Beyond the Standard Model, though the particle nature of dark matter remains unknown. If dark matter was in thermal equilibrium with the Standard Model particle bath in the early Universe, then some annihilation mechanism is required to prevent overclosure. The required size of this interaction (3e26 cm^3/s), suggests that the current and near-future suite of particle physics experiments should be capable of detecting such thermally-coupled dark matter. Given the quantity and quality of the data available now or in the next decade, we therefore are at a time of great potential for the physics of dark matter.

The relevant experiments include colliders (primarily the Large Hadron Collider), direct detection, and indirect detection; all of these must act in concert to maximize our coverage of the vast model-space of well-motivated thermally-coupled dark matter. To this must be added the information gained about dark matter from its gravitational interactions on the Galaxy and Universe around us. This comes from the latest results from astronomical probes and detailed simulations of large-scale and Galactic structures.

The theoretical work proposed here will support the dark matter experimental program by bringing together these multiple probes of the dark sector. Using results of dark matter simulation and astrophysical observation, I will quantify and reduce the astrophysical uncertainties on direct and indirect detection results, allowing more accurate extraction of theoretical parameters. These techniques will also be used to improve the sensitivity of the experiments themselves. I will improve the techniques available for dark matter searches at the Large Hadron Collider, using realistic detector simulations and new kinematic variables. I will synthesize the results of multiple classes of dark matter experiments using a coherent theoretical framework, and undertake a systematic analysis of the available theory-space of thermally-coupled dark matter, with the aim to close the remaining experimental windows for such models of dark matter.

This theoretical work will maximize the experimental reach for a broad and compelling class of dark matter theories, and thus aid in the effort to discover the physics behind 26% of the Universe. Notably, as this proposed work entails an integration of gravitational evidence for the properties of dark matter (via simulation and astrophysical results) with particle physics, these results can be applied to any model of dark matter, not just those involving thermal equilibrium in the early Universe. Thus, regardless of the ultimate particle nature of dark matter, this work will result in important improvements in our understanding of dark matter which will aid in any future experimental effort to discover the physics of the dark sector.

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