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Ratcheting Up The Search For Dark Matter.

By Samuel Dylan McDermott


The last several years have included remarkable advances in two of the primary areas of fundamental particle physics: the search for dark matter and the discovery of the Higgs boson. This dissertation will highlight some contributions made on the forefront of these exciting fields. Although the circumstantial evidence supporting the dark matter hypothesis is now almost undeniably significant, indisputable direct proof is still lacking. As the direct searches for dark matter continue, we can maximize our prospects of discovery by using theoretical techniques complementary to the observational searches to rule out additional, otherwise accessible parameter space. In this dissertation, I report bounds on a wide range of dark matter theories. The models considered here cover the spectrum from the canonical case of self-conjugate dark matter with weak-scale interactions, to electrically charged dark matter, to non-annihilating, non-fermionic dark matter. These bounds are obtained from considerations of astrophysical and cosmological data, including, respectively: diffuse gamma ray photon observations; structure formation considerations, along with an explication of the novel local dark matter structure due to galactic astrophysics; and the existence of old pulsars in dark-matter-rich environments. I also consider the prospects for a model of neutrino dark matter which has been motivated by a wide set of seemingly contradictory experimental results. In addition, I include a study that provides the tools to begin solving the speculative ``inverse'' problem of extracting dark matter properties solely from hypothetical nuclear energy spectra, which we may face if dark matter is discovered with multiple direct detection experiments. In contrast to the null searches for dark matter, we have the example of the recent discovery of the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson is the first fundamental scalar particle ever observed, and precision measurements of the production and decay of the Higgs boson represent a unique entry point to searches for new kinds of physics. Continuing to refine our understanding of the Higgs boson will also allow us to learn about a vast array of possible new physics. This dissertation includes work parameterizing some of the scenarios that are most likely to be discovered with future Higgs data

Topics: High Energy Particle Physics, Theoretical Particle Physics, Particle Physics Phenomenology, Dark Matter Detection and Constraints, Higgs Physics
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