A “Vrije Programma” grant of 2.0M€ from funding agency Stichting FOM will allow several UvA faculty members at the Institute of Physics, all associated to the UvA research priority area GRAPPA, to carry out a research program to investigate the nature of Dark Matter over the next six years.
Astronomical observations consistently point to a picture where only about 15% of the remaining 85% of matter in the Universe, so-called Dark Matter, is not directly observable but can be deduced from indirect, gravitational evidence. The nature of Dark Matter is unknown; it has to be some new subatomic particle. This fits the expectation from subatomic physics where extensions of the Standard Model of particle physics suggest that new particles must exist: some of these hypothetical particles are perfect Dark Matter candidates.
The funded research program will allow an experimental and theoretical investigation with the goal to identify the particle responsible for Dark Matter. The granted FOM program will allow the researchers to participate in experiments aimed at so-called direct detection of Dark Matter. Program leader dr. Patrick Decowski (UvA/Nikhef): “A worldwide hunt is taking place for Dark Matter particles. All these scientists would love to be the first to spot them. The Nikhef institute for subatomic physics is a partner in the XENON100 experiment that is presently running the most sensitive Dark Matter experiment to date. We are also building its successor, XENON1T, scheduled to start collecting Dark Matter data in 2015. XENON1T will be a hundred times more sensitive than XENON100.
At the same time, we will be pursuing a vigorous program to work on outstanding theoretical questions and astrophysical uncertainties that directly impact the analysis of dark matter data. Finally, we aim to combine all the available Dark Matter information to extract as much information about the Dark Matter particle as possible. The experimental and theoretical projects included in the FOM program will push the Netherlands to the forefront of Dark Matter research worldwide.”