We’re investigating the unknown form of mass called dark matter.
There exists an unknown form of mass, which accounts for five times more of the universe than all the atoms or baryons known. Understanding the nature of this so-called dark matter is one of the greatest challenges in the physical sciences for this century, bringing together astronomers and particle or nuclear physicists in a global hunt.
There are many candidates for this collisionless, non-luminous gravitating mass; from ultralight axion particles to weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) to even primordial black holes. We are at the forefront of all of these investigations.
On the largest scales we use supercomputer simulations to better predict the distribution of dark matter around visible tracers, i.e. stars and galaxies, that are then compared with gravitational lensing maps from the Hubble Space Telescope or high-energy emission from potential dark matter self-annihilation signatures as revealed by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
“Explaining the nature of dark matter would reveal more of the universe than all of our collective efforts to date, the search is a global race that merges supercomputers, vast telescopes and enormous underground detectors. Whatever we find will transform our picture of physics in this century as surely as splitting the atom did in the 20th century.”
Professor Alan Duffy , Centre of Astrophysics and Supercomputing
An international observing centre, run on the Chilean DECam telescope, is even trying to determine the ‘twinkling’ of stars in the Large Magellenic Cloud when microlensed by intervening dark matter in form of asteroid-mass black holes, forged in the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang.
Closer to Earth, we are searching for WIMPs from the bottom of an active gold mine in the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory as a member of the worldwide SABRE dark matter detector. As a Node in the Nation’s newly established ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics, we are active in pursuing a range of other particle masses from axions to super-heavy particles and searching for production signals in the Large Hadron Collider itself.
Did you know?
Millions of dark matter particles fly though your body each and every second, and yet only one a day would collide with you. How do you search for a ghost that can fly through you, our detectors and even the entire earth without trace?
Detection of WIMP dark matter using a sodium iodide target with active background rejection in the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory.
Using in-house software, we are finding and quantifying the structural components of galaxies.
Understanding the nature of this so-called dark matter is one of the greatest challenges in the physical sciences for this century.
See related research themes
Circumgalactic and Intergalactic Medium
Cosmology and Reionisation
Data-Intensive Astronomy, Astronomical Software and Instrumentation
Fast Radio Bursts and Transients
Globular Cluster Systems
Pulsars and Gravitational Wave Astronomy
Stars and Planets
Supermassive Black Holes
Contact the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing
If you have any questions, or are looking for more information, feel free to contact our office on +61 3 9214 8000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.