University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Monday, February 12th 2018
3:30 pm:
Speaker: Katherine Freese
Subject: The Dark Matter in the Universe
Candidate for FTPI Faculty Position

“What is the Universe made of?” This question is the longest outstanding problem in all of modern physics, and it is one of the most important research topics in cosmology and particle physics today. The bulk of the mass in the Universe is thought to consist of a new kind of dark matter particle, and the hunt for its discovery in on. I'll start by discussing the evidence for the existence of dark matter in galaxies, and then show how it fits into a big picture of the Universe containing 5% atoms, 25% dark matter, and 70% dark energy. Neutrinos only constitute ½% of the content of the Universe, but much can be learned about neutrino properties from cosmological data. Leading candidates for the dark matter are Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), axions, and sterile neutrinos. WIMPs are a generic class of particles that are electrically neutral and do not participate in strong interactions, yet have weak-scale interactions with ordinary matter. There are multiple approaches to experimental searches for WIMPS: at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva; in underground laboratory experiments; with astrophysical searches for dark matter annihilation products, and upcoming searches with the James Webb Space Telescope for Dark Stars, early stars powered by WIMP annihilation. Current results are puzzling and the hints of detection will be tested soon. At the end of the talk I'll briefly turn to dark energy and its effect on the fate of the Universe.

Faculty Host: Keith Olive

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