Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Departmental Colloquium -A multi-faceted approach to dark matter science

Francis-Yan Cyr-Racine
(Harvard University)

Date: Tuesday May 9th, 2017
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Location: Theatre B


Dark matter is necessary to explain an array of astrophysical and cosmological observations, from the anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background to the dynamics of the smallest galaxies. In astrophysics, dark matter is often thought of as being entirely made of collisionless non-relativistic particles. This is in stark contrast with the realm of particle physics where a myriad of possible models have been proposed, some of which conform with the standard cold dark matter picture, while many others predict a significantly different phenomenology. Bridging this gap between the particle model builders and astrophysicists is a key step toward developing a comprehensive dark matter theory capable of describing not only direct-detection and collider experiments, but also the way structure forms and assembles in our Universe. I will describe my recent work aimed at directly connecting particle dark matter models to astrophysical observables, focusing primarily on sub-galactic scales where important clues about dark matter might lay hidden. I will then describe two promising techniques based on gravitational lensing to probe these small scales and potentially provide new information about dark matter physics.  Overall, I will argue that a strong astrophysical program is a necessary complement to laboratory dark matter searches since it can help reduce the inherent uncertainties related to the local dark matter distribution while at the same time providing new lampposts on which to focus experimental efforts.