The Federal Government is funding world-leading research to tackle one of the greatest open questions in science today: What is the nature of ‘dark matter’ – the answer will have profound impacts, comparable to the discovery of the Higgs boson and gravitational waves.
Minister for Education Dan Tehan announced the Federal Government would provide $35 million to investigate dark matter.
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics will be led by Professor Elisabetta Barberio and based at the University of Melbourne.
“We can’t see dark matter but we know it exists and unlocking its secrets has the potential to transform our understanding of the universe,” Mr Tehan said.
“This project will involve the intersection of particle, nuclear, and quantum physics as well as particle astrophysics to pursue the discovery of dark matter particles.
“The discovery of dark matter will create a completely new branch of physics and particle astrophysics to purse the discovery of dark matter particles.
“This Centre of Excellence will bring together a diverse field of expertise, with national and international experts working together to further our knowledge.
“This new ARC Centre of Excellence will take advantage of the first underground physics lab in the Southern Hemisphere, which was also funded by the Morrison Government.
“The Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory will be built deep underground at the Stawell Gold Mine in western Victoria to allow researchers to conduct experiments that rely on precise measurements using some of the world’s most sensitive scientific equipment.
“Our Government’s investment in world-leading researching will help advance our understanding of the universe and also improve the experience, skills and capacity of Australian researchers.”
University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell said: “This is a significant investment that sets Australia up as a leader on the world stage in the search for dark matter, which comprises 80 per cent of the mass of the universe.
“The Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory will be the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
“I congratulate Elisabetta and her team on their tremendous work to date and thank the Federal Government for its support of this research, which may very well change how we look at the world,” Professor Maskell said.
More information about the ARC Centres of Excellence program is on the ARC website.