Constraining cosmic antinuclei fluxes for indirect dark matter searches with precision measurements of rare antimatter cluster formation


Visible matter constitutes only 5% of the matter-energy content of the Universe, whereas the remaining 95% is constituted by unknown forms of matter (20%) and energy (75%) that appear as ``dark'' to us. In the landscape of Dark Matter searches, antinuclei are a promising, almost background-free smoking gun signal for WIMPs and are a target of indirect dark matter searches. This project attacks in a systematic and comprehensive way the modelling of light antimatter cluster formation, necessary to predict the expected signal and background rates for dark matter antinuclei searches in space-borne experiments. The programme is based on precision measurements of rare antihelium production in proton-proton, proton-nucleus and nucleus-nucleus collisions with the ALICE detector at the CERN LHC. An innovative approach based on the measurement of two-particle correlations will be applied for the first time to investigate experimentally antinuclei formation via coalescence in relation to the nucleus wavefunction and interaction potential. The results of the analysis of the ALICE data will be input for the modelling of antinuclei formation and propagation in the Galaxy. The final goal of the project is to obtain a prediction for the expected cosmic ray antihelium background rate for AMS-02, further enhancing the scientific value of the proposed research programme. The outcome of this project will shed light on the production mechanisms of light nuclei and antinuclei in high-energy interactions. In addition, it will extend the ALICE and LHC physics programme to the astrophysical domain, with a deep innovative impact in a well-established field of research. It will have direct fundamental applications to indirect dark matter searches with existing (AMS-02) and future (GAPS, AMS-100) experiments, providing relevant input to frontier research in this sector.

Project details

Unibo Team Leader: Francesca Bellini

Unibo involved Department/s:
Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia "Augusto Righi"

ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna(Italy)

Other Participants:
Technische Universitat Munchen (Fg Obstbau) (Germany)

Total Eu Contribution: Euro (EUR) 1.468.625,00
Project Duration in months: 60
Start Date: 01/07/2021
End Date: 30/06/2026

Cordis webpage

Industry, innovation and infrastructure This project contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

UE flag This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 950692