Illuminating Dark Matter

Date & Time

Rouven Essig, Stony Brook University
Jonathan Feng, UC Irvine
Kathryn Zurek, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The identity of dark matter is one of the great scientific mysteries of our time. The field is currently undergoing a transformation. The odds-on favorites from earlier decades, WIMPs, are still viable, but are becoming increasingly constrained by null results from LHC searches and direct detection. The other classic candidates, sterile neutrinos and axions, are being re-examined and re-imagined, with qualitatively new possibilities emerging. Outstanding puzzles, including the value of anomalous magnetic moment of the muon, the 6.8 sigma anomaly in beryllium decays, the 3.5 keV X-ray line from galaxies, and the distribution of dark matter on galaxy scales, along with theoretical developments, are motivating new classes of candidates.

Particularly interesting are light dark matter particles and dark sectors with masses in the eV to GeV range, which could explain many of these puzzles. Moreover, several mechanisms exist that can naturally generate dark matter with the correct relic abundance in this mass range. The recent years have seen an explosion of new ideas to detect such light dark matter particles. These ideas have often emerged from theoretical physicists thinking across several disciplines — particle physics, condensed matter physics, cosmology, and atomic, molecular, and optical physics — but require expert experimentalists and instrumentalists to sharpen these ideas and bring them to fruition. These developments are allowing physicists to explore vast new regions of dark-matter parameter space.

The Symposium on Illuminating Dark Matter will bring together a diverse group of researchers to take a fresh look at dark matter, beginning with a high-level, critical re-evaluation of the field, its recent progress, and possible alternatives. The goals of the meeting are to stimulate out-of-the-box discussions, explore new ideas, forge ties with other branches of physics, and identify new and promising approaches to identifying dark matter.

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