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The last decade has witnessed something that may well have been totally unanticipated in the previous decades: an explosive progress in the field of cosmology which led to the high-precision determination of several cosmological parameters. The model of the hot Big Bang, once the subject of fierce scientific and philosophical debate, is now a well-established reality. With it comes the fact that the nature of about 85% of the Universe’s present matter content is currently not understood.
The most compelling solution to the DM problem is one in form of a yet undiscovered, fundamental particle of nature, the concrete microscopic properties of which remain essentially unknown to date. Indeed, DM may comprise an entire hidden sector of particles, contain several states, new dark forces, and feature dark radiation components—with consequences for cosmology, for underground rare event searches, and at high-intensity particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
The group explores the theoretical spectrum of ideas that concern the particle character of DM. We do so in a phenomenologically driven fashion, i.e. by putting a special emphasis on the testability of the proposed scenarios in particle physics experiment and astrophysical observation. Thereby we join a global effort that seeks to unravel the particle nature of the hidden sector, and to identify or to conclusively rule out candidates of Dark Matter.
The primary methods to achieve this goal will be to consider theoretical scenarios of physics beyond our known "Standard Model" of particle physics, first and foremost motivated by the DM problem, and to confront them with data and projections from underground rare event searches, to check for their cosmological viability and to find associated astrophysical signatures, and to work out their implications for high-energy colliders such as the LHC.
The group is financed through the "New Frontiers Program" by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Further Information can be found at here.