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Hidden sectors in particle physics

Particle physics has entered the most exciting era in its history with the advent of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. New experiments are leading particle physics into a data-driven era.
Hidden sectors in particle physics
The discovery of the Higgs boson was just the beginning with vast amounts of data flowing in from all experimental frontiers. The EU-funded project FDMLHC (From dark matter to the Large Hadron Collider: A new data-driven era) focused on how a new, hidden sector of particles could affect upcoming experimental results. Theory- and data-driven approaches were combined to study the nature of the Higgs boson and to search for dark matter.

FDMLHC used the LHC data to pin down properties of the Higgs boson and searched for dark matter particles. Although dark matter hasn't been directly detected, it has been established that somewhere between 90 and 99 % of the matter in the Universe is in this as-yet-undiscovered form.

Together with scientists from the ATLAS (short for 'A Toroidal LHC Apparatus') collaboration, FDMLHC researchers looked for a hidden sector in exotic decays of the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson may have decay channels not predicted by the standard model – the theory describing how elementary particles interact.

The absence of non-standard model physics at LHC and the lack of a weakly interacting massive particle discovery – one of the most popular dark matter candidates – led project scientists to focus on light dark matter. Analysis shows that dark matter particles with a mass below a gigaelectron-volt can be detected using atomic ionisation.

The team studied the cosmological implications of the gravitino – the super-partner of the graviton – concluding that the scale of supersymmetry may be low and possibly within reach of LHC experiments.

New classes of supersymmetric models, which exhibit dynamical R-parity violation, were developed. Such models not only simplify the ad hoc couplings presented in current theories, but also predict new and distinct collider phenomenology. Publications have detailed the model building aspects of such theories as well as the expected LHC phenomenology.

Many FDMLHC project results were significant in themselves. More important perhaps was the demonstration of the potential of the new technique. Future experiments taking advantage of the interaction between light dark matter particles and the atomic electrons of semiconductors could produce an observable signal.

Related information


Large Hadron Collider, Higgs boson, dark matter, ATLAS, decay channel, weakly interacting massive particle, gravitino, supersymmetry, R-parity violation
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