The University of Southampton

International partnership explores strategies to discover Dark Matter

Published: 16 September 2021
The international collaboration will help decode Dark Matter signals from accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider.

Physicists at the University of Southampton are collaborating with experts in Croatia's largest multidisciplinary scientific research centre to help unlock understanding of Dark Matter.

Professor Stefano Moretti and Professor Alexander Belyaev have been awarded International Exchanges funding from the Royal Society to partner with Ruder Boskovic Institute's Dr Tania Robens on the ground-breaking research.

The two-year award will combine the complementary expertise of researchers from Southampton and Zagreb to devise novel search strategies for Beyond Standard Model (BSM) physics. The teams' findings will be used to decode the true dynamics of new physics once Dark Matter signals are observed at the Large Hadron Collider or future accelerators.

Professor Moretti says: "So far, the so-called Standard Model of particle physics is the best explanation for the dynamics of matter and forces in our universe. However, there are fundamental aspects of nature on which it falls short. In particular, astrophysical measurements lead us to believe that there is a significant proportion of new matter in the universe that cannot be 'seen' by standard experiments - aptly named 'Dark Matter' (DM).

"One important ingredient in the quest for new physics is the interpretation of current experimental results which may already constrain the viability of DM models, so that this will be the first step of our endeavour. Armed with this knowledge, we will then proceed to select suitable DM models and exploit new ideas on how to look for their collider signals. Our studies, driven by theoretical physicists yet connecting to experimental analysis, will be a key ingredient to make progress in understanding DM."

The Nobel-prize-winning discovery in 2012 of a Higgs boson, the last particle completing the Standard Model, heralded the beginning of a new and exciting era in exploring the unknown physics that may lie beyond it.

The NExT Institute, directed by Professor Moretti, fosters interactions between theory and experiment in an interdisciplinary and multi-sited environment to accelerate advances in the field. The partnership, which was founded by the Southampton High Energy Physics (SHEP) group and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in 2006, expanded last year to welcome King's College London to its six member organisations.

The new International Exchanges collaboration will include four male and three female physicists involved at all levels from PhD to professor.

Professor Belyaev says: "Being part of the NExT Institute, Southampton is an ideal place for joint theoretical and experimental projects. Its members are world leaders in both model building and phenomenology as well as developers of key numerical tools for BSM physics, while Zagreb has world-leading experience in exploring the parameter space of DM models with extended scalar sectors. This project will benefit from the unique experience of these two teams in not only devising novel search strategies for BSM models of DM, but also deploying sophisticated Monte Carlo simulations leading to real data analyses."

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