Interdisciplinary Summer School 2017

Stream 4: The Intersection of Cosmology and Particle Physics

Leader: Prof Lerothodi Leeuw
Selemela Astrophysics, College of Graduate Studies

The Intersection of Cosmology and Particle Physics

This stream will explore the intersection of Cosmology and Particle Physics in a series of lectures on (a) the large-scale astronomical surveys to elucidate dark matter and dark energy and (b) the search for dark interactions with interpretation for dark matter. 

A. The Large Scale Astronomical Surveys to Elucidate Dark Matter and Dark Energy -- The recent history of astronomy and cosmology has been dominated by results from wide-angle, large scale sky surveys in many wavelength bands.  This era of big data astronomy has brought about revolutionary changes in our understanding of cosmology,

particularly the discovery that only about 4% of the mass-energy density of the Universe is in the form of atoms with the rest being in the form of non-baryonic dark matter and dark energy. Hence, the fundamental questions of particle physics and cosmology are now inextricably linked since the fundamental constituents of the universe can only be completely understood by a combination of discoveries from experiments in both realms.

 In this series of lectures, we will explore:

  1. What's known about the nature of dark matter and dark energy
  2.  Astronomical observations leading to the best evidence to date for non-zero neutrino masses
  3. Current and anticipated constraints on alternative theories of gravity on large scales
  4. Expectations from future large scale astronomical surveys, particularly the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope which is expected to produce results in 2023

 B. The Search for Dark Interactions with interpretation for dark matter -- Hidden sector or dark sector states appear in many extensions to the Standard Model, to provide a candidate for the darkmatter in the universe or to explain astrophysical observations of positron excesses. A hidden or dark sector can be introduced with an additional $U(1)_d$ dark gauge symmetry. The presence of the dark sector could be inferred either from deviations from the SM-predicted rates of Drell-Yan (DY) events or from Higgs boson decays through exotic intermediate states. The discovery of the Higgs boson during Run 1 of the Large Hadron Collider opens a new and rich experimental program that includes the search for exotic decays H —> Z Zdark —> 4l and. H —> Zdark Zdark ->4l, where Zdark is a dark vector boson.

In this series of lectures, we will discuss:

  1. The theoretical motivation for dark sector states;
  2. The status of current searches for dark sector states at the Large Hadron Collider;
  3. The constraints from low energy experiments;
  4. The prospects for the future.

For an introductory presentation of the Standard Model (SM) of Particle Physics, see



Graduate students from Honours level up and postdoctoral fellows with any astronomy, mathematics, physics and computing backgrounds, who wish to gain a path to participating in these research areas, are welcome to apply for admission to the summer school stream.

Last modified: Mon Sep 04 09:07:02 SAST 2017