Science
There is overwhelming evidence that approximately one quarter of the mass density of the Universe consists of an unknown form of Dark Matter. The Dark Matter Hub's mission is to bring together investigators performing research on all aspects of Dark Matter to fully elucidate the solution to this longstanding cosmological mystery. While there is little firm evidence as to the specific properties of the particle that makes up the dark matter, there are compelling reasons to believe that it is a Weakly Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP). The WIMP hypothesis is being investigated through multiple, complementary, experimental and theoretical programs at the KICP and elsewhere. The Dark Matter Hub serves as a focal point, bringing together researchers engaged in the search for dark matter to coordinate their efforts.

WIMP dark matter is being searched for by three different experimental methods. Direct detection experiments which include the KICP's PICO (formerly COUPP), CoGeNT /C-4, DAMIC, and XENON1T efforts, look for the energy deposition left by rare WIMP-nucleus scattering events in a very low-background detector. Indirect detection experiments look for excess high-energy astrophysical particles, such as gamma-rays or positrons, created by the annihilation of WIMPs in various astrophysical environments.

Finally, collider experiments at CERN’s LHC are actively searching for these WIMPs by looking for missing energy events with specific properties in the analysis of their data. Each of these experimental efforts will likely reach the required sensitivity to identify a WIMP in their data during the lifetime of the Kavli PFC but will not, by themselves, be able to pin down the particle’s precise properties. In addition to the experimental efforts, theorists are pursuing research relevant to the detection and identification of a WIMP. Theoretical efforts include: modeling the halo dark matter distribution via simulations, particle physics (i.e. supersymmetric) model building, WIMP abundance calculations, and identifying detection signatures for each experimental effort.

While each of the experimental approaches listed above might detect a WIMP, none are capable of fully describing its’ properties. Only by a concerted, collaborative effort amongst all experiments, assisted by detailed theoretical input, will the full properties of the WIMP comprising the dark matter be revealed.

To succeed in this goal, the Dark Matter Hub is bringing together all KICP researchers involved in solving the dark matter problem within a framework designed to foster collaboration. In addition to bringing together local researchers, hub membership includes numerous investigators at other institutions and supports a vigorous program of short- and long-term visitors participating in hub programs. Hub activities include quarterly meetings for members to share their latest results and plans thereby encouraging collaborative discussions on future efforts. The visitors program ensures that fresh viewpoints are always included and provides for rapid dissemination of local results. The hub hosts focused workshops, both within the Hub and for the larger dark matter community to further its mission. The KICP's Dark Matter Hub will speed the resolution of this longstanding cosmological mystery by providing a centralized structure, which promotes all aspects of the search for dark matter.