This award funds the research activities of Professor Manoj Kaplinghat at the University of California, Irvine.
Over the next few years, astrophysical observations will play a pivotal role in the effort to detect dark matter through non-gravitational means. The focus in this project will be on two promising ways forward. One will be to use observations of gamma-rays towards the luminous satellites of the Milky Way in order to constrain or detect weak-scale thermal dark matter. Weak-scale thermal dark matter is the most widely studied dark-matter candidate and is motivated by particle-physics models at the high (electroweak-scale) energies currently being probed at the Large Hadron Collider. The other way forward will be to develop simplified models to describe dark-matter halo density profiles in the presence of significant self-interactions and compare to observations. As part of the project, the PI will provide a map between these preferred models and the underlying particle-physics models in which such phenomenology is realized.
This project is also envisioned to have significant broader impacts. The PI will develop a cosmology and particle-physics cluster for the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (i.e., the "COSMOS Program" at UC Irvine). COSMOS is a program for motivated high-school students and currently has a cluster in astronomy at UC Irvine but none in particle physics. Based on input from faculty teaching the astronomy cluster, it is envisioned that a particle physics and cosmology module will be highly subscribed.