Measuring the dark matter that surrounds us

“The big idea for dark matter detection is that it’s all around us right now, and it’s really important gravitationally, for how big structures—galaxies and bigger—form,” says UW particle astrophysicist Kimberly Palladino. “We know it doesn’t interact with light and with charge, and it doesn’t really interact much with itself.”


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Three physics majors win Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowships

Roger Waleffe (working with Prof. Forest)
Matthew Frazier (working with Prof. Gilbert)
Colin Adams (working with Prof. Vandenbroucke)

The Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowships support undergraduate research done in collaboration with UW–Madison faculty or research/instructional academic staff. Approximately 97 – 100 Hilldale awards are available each year.

Prof. Jenny Thomas elected a Fellow of the Royal Society

Jenny Thomas, Senior Scientist with the IceCube group and Prof. at University College London, has been elected to a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of their outstanding contribution to science.

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Mapping the universe with new radio telescopes

Talk by Prof Peter Timbie at the Physical Sciences Laboratory (3725 Schneider Dr., Stoughton, Wi) entitled “Mapping the Universe with New Radio Telescopes”.

What is the nature of the inflation process that started the Big Bang expansion of the Universe? What is the Dark Energy that is causing that expansion to accelerate? And what is the origin of the recently discovered `fast radio bursts’ that flash on the sky 10,000 times per day? Professor Timbie will describe plans to build radio telescopes, with help of PSL, that will be optimized to solve these three mysteries.


Test image recorded with a prototype camera for the Cherenkov Telescope Array

Each colored square corresponds to a pixel in the camera.  The camera has 1024 pixels, each sensitive to single photons with time resolution of one billionth of a second.  The full camera weighs several hundred pounds and measures five feet across.  The image was created in the laboratory in Chamberlin Hall by flashing a light emitting diode at the camera, with pixels surrounding the W electrically suppressed by operating them at low bias voltage.  The color scale indicates how many photons were detected in each pixel, with the darkest red pixels corresponding to the most light.  The actual photons that were detected are blue.  The pixels have not yet been calibrated, which is why some artifacts are visible.  The camera will be installed on a prototype telescope at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, where it will detect flashes of light produced by very high energy gamma rays produced in astrophysical sources and colliding with Earth’s atmosphere.  The prototype Schwarzschild Couder Telescope for the Cherenkov Telescope Array is supported by a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation, award #1229792.  Image credit: Colin Adams, Thomas Meures, Justin Vandenbroucke, Physics Department.

A short video describes the project and details UW’s involvement.

Dark matter detection receives 10-ton upgrade

Ten University of Wisconsin–Madison scientists are involved in designing and testing the LZ detector, and are part of a team of more than 200 researchers from 38 institutions in five countries working on the project. This month, the Department of Energy approved proceeding with the final stages of assembly and construction of LZ at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota, with a total project cost of $55 million.

Illustration Credit: SLAC

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The department mourns the loss of Professor Marj Corcoran of Rice University

Dr. Corcoran was killed in a bicycle accident on February 3, 2017. Dr. Corcoran was the 2008 recipient of UW Physics Department’s Distinguished Scientist award in recognition of her work at UW-Madison with Prof. Albert Erwin.