Light from Darkness? Searching for Dark Matter in the Sky

Science for the Public Lecture in partnership with the Robbins Library August 15, 2019
Robbins Public Library, Arlington MA

Tracy Slatyer, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dark matter is believed to comprise five-sixths of the matter in the universe, and is one of the strongest pieces of evidence for new fundamental physics. But dark matter does not interact directly with light, making it very difficult to detect except by its gravity. Dr. Slatyer describes how dark matter collisions might create observable signals, and how we can attempt to pick out those signals from telescope observations. In the last few years, such attempts have unveiled fascinating new structures in high-energy light: understanding these observations may either reveal the new physics of dark matter, or probe the deep history of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Tracy Slatyer has led innovative theoretical research on scenarios where the dark matter couples to much lighter particles, and hence may experience long-range forces; her work has helped inspire a broad experimental program to search for such particles. Awards include the 2017 Henry Primakoff Award for Early-Career Particle Physics by the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society; and the 2014 Bruno Rossi Prize of the American Astronomical Society.