Paper Explainer: Asymmetry Observables and the Origin of RD^(∗) Anomalies

Paper Explainer: Asymmetry Observables and the Origin of RD^(∗) Anomalies

This is an explainer of my recent paper, written with my colleague here at Rutgers David Shih, and David’s graduate student, Pouya Asadi. This is a follow-up in some sense to our previous collaboration, which for various reasons I wasn’t able to write up when it came out earlier this year.

This paper concerns itself with the RDRD and RD∗RD∗ anomalies, so I better start off explaining what those are. The Standard Model has three “generations” of matter particles which are identical except for their masses. The lightest quarks are the up and down, then the charm and strange, and finally the heaviest pair, the top and bottom. The electron has the muon and the tau as progressively heavier partners. The heavier particles can decay into a lighter version only through the interaction with a WW boson — these are the only “flavor changing” processes in the Standard Model.

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Paper Explainer: Gravitational probes of dark matter physics

Paper Explainer: Gravitational probes of dark matter physics

The central thesis of the paper is that there is a huge potential to learn about the properties of dark matter: things like mass, interactions, production, etc using measurements from astronomy. This is not a completely novel idea: we know a great deal about dark matter from astronomy and cosmology (for example: dark matter is "cold" and not "hot"). However, there is an immense opportunity in the near future to do far more, thanks to improvements in simulation and some powerful new astronomical surveys which will be occurring. 

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TRISEP Summer School Lectures

TRISEP Summer School Lectures

I'm up in Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, giving three hours of lectures on "Beyond the Standard Model physics and the LHC" for the TRISEP Summer School.

TRISEP this year is mostly experimental grad students, and mostly experimental grad students working on experiments in the underground labs (such as SNOLAB in Sudbury). I'm the only lecturer who's talking about Beyond the Standard Model physics in general (though specific topics like dark matter and neutrino physics are being covered in more detail by other lecturers), and the only one talking about the LHC. Given that, and the audience, I ended up giving a broad overview: first on the sort of things we theorists have reason to think must exist beyond the Standard Model, then how the LHC works (always entertaining to have a theorist speak on how experiments work), and then lastly on how we look for new physics at the LHC. The slides are below.

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Paper Explainer: Digging Deeper for New Physics in the LHC Data

Paper Explainer: Digging Deeper for New Physics in the LHC Data

Is there any new physics at the LHC?

The answer appears to be “no.” If there was obvious evidence of new physics at the LHC, trust me, you would have heard about it by now. 

But how do we know? The LHC produces a truly ridiculous amount of data. For each event (and the LHC writes to permanent record 400 events per second) the LHC records all information from all the detector elements. But nowhere in that information is a little flag that says “New Physics!” Indeed, most new physics we can imagine can be aped by physics of the Standard Model. We look for new physics via statistical evidence: we hope to see more events with a particular character than we would have expected. 

But we haven’t seen such an excess, correct?

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Paper Explainer: Collapsed Dark Matter Structures

Paper Explainer: Collapsed Dark Matter Structures

This is a description of a paper I’ve written with my postdoc, Anthony DiFranzo. In our paper, we consider the possibility that dark matter could form gravitationally collapsed objects, evolving from an initial state of nearly uniform distribution across the Universe into one where it forms compact objects, analogous to have the regular matter that you and I are made of eventually formed stars and galaxies. Usually, we think this is not possible for dark matter, due to evidence that, on the largest scales, dark matter forms gravitationally bound structures that are much "fluffier" than the collapsed stars and galaxies. 

However, as we show in the paper, there is a way for dark matter to evolve into compact objects on small scales (say, a thousandth the size of the Milky Way), while still satisfying the constraints we've observed at larger scales. In demonstrating that it is possible for dark matter to do this, I think our paper makes an important point about some open questions in the field of dark matter research.

To explain why I started thinking about this particular project, I want to motivate it with a somewhat whimsical question.

Can there be planets and stars made of dark matter?

 

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Paper Explainer: Hiding Thermal Dark Matter with Leptons

Paper Explainer: Hiding Thermal Dark Matter with Leptons

This is a description of my recent paper with my student David Feld. 

Dark matter is a problem. We know that there is a gravitational anomaly in galaxies: the stuff we can see is moving far too fast to be held together by its own gravity. Add to this the precision measurements of the echoes of the Big Bang (the Cosmic Microwave Background), which tells us that the way the Universe was expanding and matter was clumping cannot be explained without some new stuff that didn’t interact with light, and you have very solid evidence for the existence of dark matter. Then of course, there is the Bullet Cluster, where we can see the gravitational imprint of dark matter directly.

So we know it exists. We just don’t know what it is.

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Paper Explainer: Two is not always better than one: Single Top Quarks and Dark Matter

Paper Explainer: Two is not always better than one: Single Top Quarks and Dark Matter

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to be contacted by an experimental student in the CMS collaboration, Deborah Pinna. Deborah had a question for me: in a certain set of dark matter models that I had written one of the early papers on, we only considered one particular class of final states, namely production of dark matter at the LHC along with a pair of top quarks. Why, she asked, did we not also consider the production of a single top quark, along with dark matter?

The answer was that everyone, including myself, just assumed that this channel didn’t matter. I’ll explain why in a bit, but I had just assumed that the rate at which this sort of event could occur would be so low that I never actually bothered to check. It turned out that my intuition was wrong. Deborah did check, and upon finding out that this single-top channel mattered, contacted me, assuming perhaps there was a good reason for ignoring it. There wasn’t.

I was really happy to contribute to Deborah’s project, and I want to emphasize that she and a postdoc, Alberto Zucchetta, did all of the heavy lifting on this paper.

So what was the idea? What is single versus pair production of tops, and why does it matter?

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Paper Explainer: Precision Corrections to Fine Tuning in SUSY

Paper Explainer: Precision Corrections to Fine Tuning in SUSY

This paper is part of a pair with the paper I wrote about here. We were interested in determining how constrained a particular theoretical extension of the Standard Model, supersymmetry (or "SUSY") is by the present experimental results (as of this last summer's ICHEP meeting). The previous paper was the "phenomenology" paper: we took the experimental results, reinterpreted them in the context of a number of interesting models, and calculated the amount of "tuning" that would be present in each model.

The paper we just put out is more of the "theory" paper, the paper that outlines how we did the tuning calculations we used in the phenomenology paper. The results are somewhat technical, so I will spend a bit more time describing the problem in general, and then talk in broad terms about what this paper adds to the discussion. So first I should describe a bit what we mean by "tuning," and why theoretical physicists care so much about it.

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Paper Explainer: Cornering Natural SUSY at LHC Run II and Beyond

Paper Explainer: Cornering Natural SUSY at LHC Run II and Beyond

This is a blog post on my most recent paper, written with my fellow Rutgers professor David Shih, a Rutgers NHETC postdoc Angelo Monteux, and two Rutgers theory grad students: David Feld (my student) and Sebastian Macaluso (David’s student). It was a pretty big project, as the large (for a theory paper) author list indicates, and in fact the end result was split into two papers for publication, with the 2nd paper coming along shortly. 

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Workshop Slides: Combinations fits of ATLAS and CMS data

Workshop Slides: Combinations fits of ATLAS and CMS data

I'm at a workshop (hosted by the theorists at U Oregon in Eugene) on recent LHC anomalies, most notably the diphoton excess of which there has been so much noise of late. I was fortunate enough to be asked to give the opening talk, showing my theorist-level fits to the CMS and ATLAS diphoton data. I thought it might be nice to put the slides I used up here. Enjoy.

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Paper Explainer: Vector Boson Fusion Searches for Dark Matter at the LHC

Paper Explainer: Vector Boson Fusion Searches for Dark Matter at the LHC

Here, I describe a recent paper I wrote with a group of experimentalists (Jim Brooke, Patrick Dunne, Bjoern Penning, and Miha Zgubic) and a Rutgers undergrad, John Tamanas. We investigated the ability of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to find dark matter using a particular type of event, one called “vector boson fusion,” or VBF.

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Paper Explainer: Assessing Astrophysical Uncertainties in Direct Detection with Galaxy Simulations

Paper Explainer: Assessing Astrophysical Uncertainties in Direct Detection with Galaxy Simulations

This is a description of a recent paper of mine, with Jonathan Sloane (a graduate student in the astro group here at Rutgers), Alyson Brooks (also a professor at Rutgers), and Fabio Governato (faculty at U Washington). We took high resolution simulations of galaxies like the Milky Way, and looked at what that can tell us about how dark matter is moving near the Earth, and what that means for how direct detection experiments look for dark matter.

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Recent Paper: Narrow or Wide? The Phenomenology of 750 GeV Diphotons

Recent Paper: Narrow or Wide? The Phenomenology of 750 GeV Diphotons

Pretty much everything I know now about the anomaly at 750 GeV.  Read this, and you'll know it too. It’s nothing too certain, but I expected that going in. 3.6σand 2.6σ is just not that much significance to start with, so any question I ask would have conflicting and uncertain results, with at best only minor preferences for any particular result. But I internalized a lot about the experimental results by forcing myself to grind through the data, and once you’ve done that much work it seemed silly not to write a paper about it.

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Recent Paper: Constraining the Strength and CP Structure of Dark Production at the LHC: the Associated Top-Pair Channel

Recent Paper: Constraining the Strength and CP Structure of Dark Production at the LHC: the Associated Top-Pair Channel

I'm going to describe my most recent paper, written with my now-frequent collaborator, Dorival Gonçalves, postdoc at the IPPP at Durham University. This paper is closely related to Dorival and my previous paper together, which I wrote about here. In fact, this was the project we were working on when we realized what we were doing had application to Higgs physics. When that happened, we decided to drop what we were currently working on and rush out the Higgs-related paper. Then we returned to the original idea, which was to find ways to study dark matter production at the LHC.

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Recent Paper: Dark Matter in Leptophilic Higgs Models After the LHC Run-I

Recent Paper: Dark Matter in Leptophilic Higgs Models After the LHC Run-I

In this post, I'll talk about my recent paper, written with my graduate student, David Feld.

This paper is interested in leptophilic Higgs models, and their possible connection to dark matter. I'll explain what those are in a bit. Such models have been considered before, but looking around at the literature, we didn't see a lot that had been updated after the discovery in 2012 of the Higgs boson at 125 GeV. We wanted to see what changed once we folded these new results in to the mix.

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Recent Paper: Boosting the Direct CP Measurement of the Higgs-Top Coupling

Recent Paper: Boosting the Direct CP Measurement of the Higgs-Top Coupling

I'm going to describe my most recent paper, written with Dorival Gonçalves, postdoc at the IPPP at Durham University. This is the arXiv version, as is usual in particle physics, we submit to the preprint serve, collect up commentary and citation requests, then get around to submitting to a journal.

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