LABORATORI NAZIONALI DI LEGNARO
Unveiling the nature of dark matter is one the most exciting challenges in physics. While dark matter constitutes about a quarter of the energy-density of the universe and 80% of its mass, its composition remains elusive.
To date the evidence for dark matter comes from astrophysical observations that probe its gravitational properties.
To improve this a very ambitious program pursues the direct detection of dark matter in the laboratory, with the most sensitive experiments trying to observe the scattering of dark matter of atomic nuclei.
In this talk I will introduce the nuclear physics that characterizes the dark matter scattering off nuclei, assuming that dark matter is composed by WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles) that couple to quarks and gluons. I will focus on nuclear structure aspects such as neutron/proton densities and spin distributions, that play a key role in spin-independent and spin-dependent WIMP-nucleon interactions.
I will also discuss the coupling of WIMPs to two nucleons, and inelastic scattering, where the nucleus is excited to a low-lying state.