Scientific Colloquium
April 19, 2017, 3:30 p.m.

"Not So Dark After All?  Does Dark Matter Shine Brightly in Gamma Rays?"  

Although there is now overwhelming evidence for the existence of dark matter, its nature is still an enigma. There are compelling reasons to believe that it may consist of particles beyond the Standard Model that are still elusive to experiments. Among dark matter search techniques, observations of the gamma-ray sky have come to prominence over the last few years, because the excellent sensitivity and full-sky coverage of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (Fermi) mission make it particularly well suited for searching for signals from the products of the interactions of hypothesized dark matter particles. In this talk I will discuss the evidence for the existence of dark matter, explain why we believe it consists of exotic particles, and describe targeted searches performed with Fermi. I will review the status of searches performed with up to seven and a half years of Fermi data with a particular focus on searches targeting two of the most promising targets: dwarf satellite galaxies of our Milky Way, and the Milky Way Galactic center. I will discuss claimed detections of potential signals of dark matter and some fascinating astrophysical backgrounds for those signals.

About the Speaker:

Eric Charles is a staff scientist at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint institute between Stanford University and at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. He obtained his Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2002 in High-Energy particle physics. In 2005 he moved to SLAC to work on Fermi. He is known equally for his work on the calibration and data analysis of the Large Area Telescope (LAT), one of the two instruments on the Fermi mission, and for his work on dark matter searches with Fermi. He has been a key member of the LAT instrument team for many years, and served as the scientific analysis coordinator for the LAT team in 2012-2013. In his spare time Dr. Charles dabbles in metal-working and pyrotechnics.

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