The first results have just been released from XENON1T (“Xenon One Ton”), the most sensitive dark matter detection experiment in the world. The XENON collaboration contains scientists from 10 different countries, including a number of Oskar Klein Centre researchers.
Ruth Pöttgen is a postdoctoral researcher in the ATLAS group at Stockholm University. In 2015, she obtained her Ph.D. at the Johannes Gutenberg – University in Mainz, Germany, for her thesis on a “Search for Dark Matter in Events with a highly energetic jet and missing transverse momentum at a centre-of-mass energy of 8 TeV with the ATLAS Detector”. At the ATLAS collaboration meeting in February, Ruth was awarded one out of 4 ATLAS Thesis Awards for outstanding contributions to the ATLAS-Experiment in the context of a Ph.D. thesis; more than 100 theses were eligible.
Dark matter is one of the basic ingredients of the Universe, and searches to detect it in laboratory-based experiments are being conducted since decades. However, until today dark matter has been observed via its gravitational interactions that govern the dynamics of the Cosmos at all length-scales. In 2014, with a grant of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation, OKC has joined an international collaboration, called XENON, that builds and operates detectors to find the elusive dark matter particles in the laboratory.
A new study is providing evidence for the presence of dark matter in the innermost part of the Milky Way, including in our own cosmic neighbourhood and the Earth’s location. The study demonstrates that large amounts of dark matter exist around us, and also between us and the Galactic centre. The result constitutes a fundamental step forward in the quest for the nature of dark matter.
In the beginning of November 2014, The Oskar Klein Centre officially joined the XENON dark matter project. The idea is to detect dark matter particles scattering of heavy nuclei.
Since one of the strongest limitation of dark matter detection is due to cosmic ray induced background, it is important to shield the detectors. For this reason XENON is situated in the Gran Sasso National Laboratory, on the side of a ten kilometer long freeway tunnel crossing the Gran Sasso mountain, about 120 km from Rome. Thus, there is about 1500 meters of rock protecting the laboratory from cosmic ray backgrounds.
Katherine Freese is in Stockholm these days since she will be receiving a prestigious Honorary doctorate at Stockholm University on Friday, the 28th September. I met with her in one of the offices at the Oskar Klein Centre in front of cup of coffee to talk a bit with this energetic woman, and try to grab her secrets.
What was you reaction when you heard you will receive this title?
Oh I was very happy, I think it is really an honor to get this. First when Lars told me I was a candidate, and then when I got it, I couldn’t believe it. It is going to be great tomorrow. I am a bit nervous, you know, because of the jet leg I am going to be so tired!
Today the ATLAS and CMS experiments have reported the observation of a strong excess of proton-proton collision events compatible with the Higgs boson.
The observed excess is obtained by combining 5 channels in the case of CMS to reach a level of 4.9 sigma of statistical significance. ATLAS has presented so far the result from two channels and observes an excess of 5 sigma. The number of events and the type of decays observed are both compatible with the standard model Higgs boson with a mass of about 125 GeV, and given the statistical significance of both ATLAS and CMS observations this can no longer be a statistical fluctuation. So today we have the discovery of a new particle.