For many physicists, astronomers, and cosmologists, the biggest mystery to be understood is the nature of dark matter. Five times more abundant than the matter made of atoms we are familiar with, the gravitational effect of dark matter has shaped the galaxies and larger structures of our universe. Understanding dark matter can help to answer what our universe is made of, how our universe evolved to its current state, and what can happen billions of years into the future.
In this talk we’ll see what astronomers can tell us about dark matter, the list of candidates for dark matter that theorists provide, and how teams of physicists around the world are looking for dark matter. We’ll focus on direct searches for dark matter, where large detectors are placed in deep underground laboratories to filter out potential interactions from cosmic ray particles, and we wait for a signal indicating that our target material has been bumped into by a dark matter particle. The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment is one such experiment with a liquid xenon target operating right now.
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