Project Overview

Astrophysical objects as Dark Matter probes

Faculty Sponsor

Cosmin Ilie (


Physics and Astronomy


One of the most profound mysteries nature has presented us with, which has remained unsolved for the past eight decades or so, is commonly referred to as Dark Matter.  Its gravitational effects have been observed on a multitude of scales, and thus lead to the consensus that DM, today, is more abundant than regular (baryonic) matter by at least a five to one ratio. While there is general agreement within the community that DM is an essential component of the Universe, playing key roles in the assembly of the luminous structures we observe today, such as galaxies, and galaxy clusters, there are still a large number of open questions. Namely, is DM a particle? If so, what are its properties? How strongly does it interact with baryonic matter? The latter question is usually addressed via direct detection experiments on Earth, the most sensitive one currently being Xenon1T in Italy. Those experiments will soon reach a very serious limiting factor. As their sensitivities are ever increasing, in the next decade or so, the atmospheric neutrino background will become overwhelming. This is commonly referred to as the ``neutrino floor.''  If the DM particle is not identified via direct detection experiments by that stage, then new strategies will be needed. A major part of this proposed work would be to continue the research on such a novel strategy we recently introduced in Ilie et al. 2020 (PRL under review). Namelly, by calculating the effects of dark matter heating, and their observable consequences, we can place bounds on the strenght of the interactions between dark matter and regular matter. 

Student Qualifications

Familiarity with coding, preferably in Python. Willingness to put in effort to learn new things, and to collaborate with other students. 

Number of Student Researchers

3 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2021 and close on 03/22/2021

<< Back to List

If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (