The University of Southampton

Physicists hunt the invisible universe to unravel nature's greatest mysteries

Published: 30 June 2020
Professor Steve King will lead Southampton’s contribution to the HIDDeN programme

Scientists will train a new generation of researchers to address the universe’s most fundamental questions through a major new European network including the University of Southampton.

The HIDDeN Innovative Training Network will probe mysteries through interconnected research streams to discover answers that could lead to a New Standard Model.

Professor Steve King, of the Southampton High Energy Physics (SHEP) theory group, will lead the University's contribution to the international research programme which will launch diverse PhD and early career research projects over the next three years.

HIDDeN, or Hunting Invisibles: Dark sectors, Dark matter and Neutrinos, unites 12 research nodes across six European countries and over 20 partner organisations.

"Although we have discovered much about what nature is made of since the discovery of electrons, most of the universe and its workings remains hidden to us," Steve says.

"Neutrinos are the most abundant known fermion but the reasons why they have mass and mix are unexplained, we have evidence of Dark Matter but we do not even know which particle makes it up, and particles and antiparticles have been shown to behave differently without any compelling reason.

"These questions cannot find answers in the commonly accepted picture of particles and interactions, the Standard Model, and are the first evidence that the model needs to be extended to a more fundamental theory which contains additional elements and new interactions."

HIDDeN will focus on revealing symmetries and asymmetries that are yet to be discovered and the particles on which they act, in particular the invisible sector, comprising neutrinos, dark matter and other elusive particles.

Researchers will explore the puzzles related to the Charge-Parity (CP) symmetry in the lepton sector as well as in strong-interactions. The symmetries responsible for the mass and mixing patterns of known particles, as well as the symmetries (and asymmetries) responsible for dark matter stability and its interactions, will also be explored.

The consortium is coordinated by the University of Durham and includes representatives of key experiments and laboratories on the field, such as CERN and Fermilab, together with seven are private sector enterprises.

HIDDeN is the third European Innovative Training Network to be awarded to the Southampton SHEP group in the past decade, following previous successes with the INVISIBLES and ELUSIVES programmes.

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