Dark Matter Is Not Science Fiction
Jeriek Van den Abeele, Physics
For many centuries, scouring the night sky and tracking astrophysical objects has proven to be a fruitful way to learn more about our Universe. For example, the observed trajectory of Uranus deviated from theoretical predictions, which led astronomers to speculate that there was an unseen planet - later confirmed when Neptune was discovered. Over the last couple of decades, an overwhelming amount of observational evidence has firmly established the existence of a vast amount of unseen dark matter, as the only explanation for anomalies observed at length scales ranging from dwarf galaxies to galaxy clusters, and way beyond. Although the precise nature of dark matter is currently unknown, several of its features have already been deduced. Furthermore, a variety of experiments is set to discover more. Both ground-based and satellite telescopes are on the lookout for dark matter annihilation products, a method known as indirect detection. Other efforts focus on the direct detection of dark matter particles scattering on nuclei in deep underground laboratories, and on attempts to produce dark matter from the collision of regular matter particles, like protons at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. On the theory side, many potential dark matter candidates have been devised and new ideas are proposed regularly. Some of the most popular ones, like neutralinos and gravitinos, naturally appear in so-called supersymmetric theories, which are intended to resolve theoretical problems in the Standard Model of particle physics. In this contribution, an introductory overview is given on the latest ideas in dark matter physics.