Light from Darkness? Searching for Dark Matter in the Sky (video)

Tracy Slatyer, Jerrold R. Zacharias Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics, MIT

Dark matter constitutes more than 5/6 of the matter in the universe, but its nature and interactions remain one of the great puzzles of fundamental physics. Dark matter collisions or decays have the potential to produce high-energy particles; such particles could be observable by Earth-based telescopes in the future, and may already have reshaped the history of our universe. I will discuss possible astrophysical and cosmological signatures of new dark matter physics, from the epoch before reionization to the present day. One such possible signal is a puzzling excess of gamma-rays emitted from the center of our galaxy; I will argue that while this excess has many properties suggestive of dark matter annihilation, it may instead be the first sign of an unexpected population of pulsars, and a potential probe of the deep history of the Milky Way.