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Constraining cosmic antinuclei fluxes for indirect dark matter searches with precision measurements of rare antimatter cluster formation

Objective

Visible matter constitutes only 5% of the matter-energy content of the Universe, whereas the remaining 95% is constituted by unknown forms of matter (20%) and energy (75%) that appear as ``dark'' to us. In the landscape of Dark Matter searches, antinuclei are a promising, almost background-free smoking gun signal for WIMPs and are a target of indirect dark matter searches.

This project attacks in a systematic and comprehensive way the modelling of light antimatter cluster formation, necessary to predict the expected signal and background rates for dark matter antinuclei searches in space-borne experiments.
The programme is based on precision measurements of rare antihelium production in proton-proton, proton-nucleus and nucleus-nucleus collisions with the ALICE detector at the CERN LHC.
An innovative approach based on the measurement of two-particle correlations will be applied for the first time to investigate experimentally antinuclei formation via coalescence in relation to the nucleus wavefunction and interaction potential. The results of the analysis of the ALICE data will be input for the modelling of antinuclei formation and propagation in the Galaxy. The final goal of the project is to obtain a prediction for the expected cosmic ray antihelium background rate for AMS-02, further enhancing the scientific value of the proposed research programme.

The outcome of this project will shed light on the production mechanisms of light nuclei and antinuclei in high-energy interactions. In addition, it will extend the ALICE and LHC physics programme to the astrophysical domain, with a deep innovative impact in a well-established field of research. It will have direct fundamental applications to indirect dark matter searches with existing (AMS-02) and future (GAPS, AMS-100) experiments, providing relevant input to frontier research in this sector.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/astrophysics/dark matter

Call for proposal

ERC-2020-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - UNIVERSITA DI BOLOGNA
Address
Via Zamboni 33
40126 Bologna
Italy
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 253 523,95

Beneficiaries (2)

ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - UNIVERSITA DI BOLOGNA
Italy
EU contribution
€ 1 253 523,95
Address
Via Zamboni 33
40126 Bologna
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET MUENCHEN
Germany
EU contribution
€ 215 101,05
Address
Arcisstrasse 21
80333 Muenchen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments