DESY News: 1.2 million euros to find new paths for the exploration of dark matter


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1.2 million euros to find new paths for the exploration of dark matter

ERC Grant for DESY physicist Kai Schmidt-Hoberg

DESY scientist Kai Schmidt-Hoberg will receive a 1.2 million euro funding grant from the European Research Council (ERC). With the ERC Starting Grant from the European Union research funding programme Horizon 2000, the theoretical physicist will be able to explore new research approaches to the so-called dark matter in the coming five years. According to scientific observations, the existence of the ominous dark matter in the universe must be five times higher than normal matter. But so far, there was no experimental evidence whatsoever.

Dark matter hunter Kai Schmidt-Hoberg
“Dark matter is on top of the wanted list of science and with the upcoming restart of the LHC at highest energies and several other experiments, we are now at the threshold to discover the first particles of this parallel world,” says DESY research director Professor Joachim Mnich. “The research approach of Kai Schmidt-Hoberg follows the long DESY tradition to bring together different research disciplines to jointly develop new ideas.”

From particle and astroparticle physics up to cosmology, dark matter is essential for scientific models and observations regarding the basic functions of our universe. It is used to describe the rotation velocity in spiral galaxies and provides very elegant models of the structure of our universe. Thus, dark matter is a unifying element of many physics disciplines, each having their own descriptions and viewpoints of their properties.

Although several experiments, including the Large Hadron collider LHC or the ALPS (Any Light Particle Search) experiment at DESY, are currently under construction or already in operation, it was not possible so far to pin down dark matter experimentally. The most recent experiments however promise to supply an unprecedented detection sensitivity. This is why many scientists are convinced to soon find first experimental evidence for this mysterious matter.

Within his project funded by the EU, Kai Schmidt-Hoberg will combine the different search paths for dark matter and find new multidisciplinary ways to unravel the puzzle of dark matter. New theoretical models to describe dark matter, pondering on possible manifestations in new collider experiments and new techniques to compare data of different dark matter experiments are the main topics of this concerted approach. For its realization, Schmidt-Hoberg plans to establish a network of excellent young scientists from different disciplines. On the basis of an intensive exchange of the presently existing approaches and research backgrounds, the scientists want to develop new ideas which will definitely advance the phenomenology of dark matter in Europe.