Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Nicholas Cutsail Rose Hills

Dark Matter Blob Signal Analysis

Currently, the nature of dark matter is a fascinating question for the field of physics. One promising candidate about the nature of dark matter is axions, which is a theoretical, lightweight particle filling all of space. According to theory, these light, axion-like particles behave like a field that oscillates at particular frequencies. However, this frequency can change over space, forming regions bounded by so-called domain walls. This year, I have been working on the Global Network of Optical Magnetometers for Exotic physics (GNOME) station at Berkeley, which uses optical techniques to measure the magnetic field in a vapor cell. According to theory, when the Earth crosses one of these axion domains, an effective magnetic field coupling will be detected in the magnetometer, so the presence of axions can be determined by analyzing the signal. To reduce noise, the GNOME collaboration operates multiple, independent magnetometers across the Earth, jointly analyzing the signals to search for axions. After working on the experimental setup this past academic year, I will transition to data analysis of the magnetometer signals this summer. Specifically, one theoretical prediction proposes self-interactions between the dark matter, which causes the dark matter to coalesce into “dark blobs.” I will be supporting the data analysis by incorporating the different signal patterns of these dark blobs, which would behave differently from the domain walls.

Message To Sponsor

I appreciate the financial support allowing me to focus solely on this project this summer, which I believe will improve my experience by diving deeper into the subject. This is a great opportunity to broaden my skills as a physicist, now exploring data analysis after working experimentally in the lab during the past school year, which is helpful for my interest in pursing graduate school. Furthermore, the physics of dark matter and the optical setups searching for dark matter is intriguing, so I look forward to continuing to develop my understanding of this fascinating subject.
Profile image of Nicholas Cutsail
Major: Physics and Applied Mathematics
Mentor: Dmitry Budker
Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
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