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¿Qué Estudian Nuestros Investigadores Jóvenes?

DArk Matter, AStroparticles and COsmology research group @ IFT UAM-CSIC, Madrid. Coordinador del Grupo de Investigación: Miguel A.Sánchez-Conde

DArk Matter, AStroparticles and COsmology research group @ IFT UAM-CSIC, Madrid

From left to right in the above pic: Dr.Ángeles Moliné, Dr.Viviana Gammaldi, Mr.Christian Díaz-Bahamondes, Ms.Alejandra Aguirre-Santaella, Ms.Judit Pérez-Romero, Dr.Miguel A.Sánchez-Conde, Mr.Javier Coronado-Blázquez, Dr.Bryan Zaldívar, Dr.Daniele Gagger

Our group possesses a long expertise in indirect dark matter searches with gamma rays. We belong to the Fermi-LAT collaboration that runs the NASA Fermi satellite, in orbit since 2008. We are also full members of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) Consortium, which represents the future of gamma-ray astrophysics. At present, many astrophysical targets in the gamma-ray sky have already been scrutinized in the context of dark matter searches, many of them by our group (nearby dwarf satellite galaxies, local galaxy clusters, the so-called isotropic gamma-ray background, the Galactic center…). Yet, no clear and univocal indication of dark matter has been found in any of these targets. Despite the null results, the efforts in this direction should definitely continue.

In the past, we addressed some of the most relevant questions for gamma-ray dark matter searches, either by proposing/exploring new astrophysical dark matter scenarios/targets and dark matter search strategies for current and future gamma-ray telescopes; by using actual gamma-ray data from Fermi-LAT to search for any hint of WIMP annihilation/decay (or imprints of other dark matter candidates like axion-like particles, ALPs) or to set constraints to the theoretical models in absence of a signal; and by using results from N-body cosmological simulations to shed light on dark matter at the smallest scales, i.e. the ones that matter the most to gamma-ray dark matter searches. A full list of our past publications can be found at the bottom of this article.


Figures’ caption: the left panel shows constraints on the dark matter particle parameter space (annihilation cross section versus mass). Black solid line was derived from our search of dark matter subhalos among the poll of unidentified sources in current gamma-ray catalogs. The right panel shows the annihilation luminosity (or discovery potential) of subhalos as a function of their distance to the Earth as derived from our own N-body cosmological simulation work. The color is an indication of subhalo mass following the scale depicted in the vertical color bar.

As an example of recent work, in one of our latest papers we addressed the relevance that low-mass subhalos may have for gamma-ray dark matter searches. Indeed, not only the visible counterparts of the most massive dark matter subhalos in our Galaxy, i.e. dwarf galaxies, but also lighter subhalos with no astrophysical counterparts and typical masses below ~10 million solar masses, can be excellent candidates for gamma-ray dark matter searches. Since the exact location of these dark satellites is not known, the Fermi-LAT naturally arises as the ideal instrument for the search, as it continually surveys the entire gamma-ray sky with unprecedented sensitivity. Indeed, around one third of the sources in the existing gamma-ray point source catalogs do not have firm associations at other wavelengths and thus remain unidentified. Some of these unidentified gamma-ray sources may actually be dark satellites waiting for a proper classification. In our recent work, we performed a careful search of dark satellites’ among the poll of unidentified sources in the 3FGL, 2FHL and 3FHL Fermi-LAT catalogs. The search methodology was built upon expected spatial and spectral dark matter signal properties, and included both, a search for astrophysical counterparts at photon wavelengths different from gamma rays, and the definition of a set of own-cooked ‘filters’ to discard standard astrophysical sources. In the absence of an evident subhalo candidate among the LAT unidentified sources, we were able to set very competitive constraints on the nature of the dark matter particle by combining our Fermi-LAT analysis with subhalo properties’ predictions derived from our N-body cosmological simulation work.

In the near future, we will continue working on the above fronts by, e.g., refining dark matter predictions and gamma-ray data analyses; by running and analyzing already existing or new N-body simulations specifically designed for our purposes; by proposing or exploring new astrophysical targets, or new techniques and approaches (for instance, we are already applying machine learning algorithms). We also plan to study other alternative cosmological models -- such as interacting dark matter-radiation scenarios, that may provide a reasonable alternative to the standard LCDM cosmological framework -- and will consider other well-motivated dark matter candidates different from WIMPs such as ALPs.


More info:

Group webpage (includes members and full publication list):

In the news: “The IFT joins the CTA Consortium”:


Dr. Miguel A. Sánchez-Conde

“Atracción de Talento Comunidad de Madrid” senior researcher

Instituto de Física Teórica, IFT UAM-CSIC
Departamento de Física Teórica, Facultad de Ciencias

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
ES-28049 Madrid
Phone: +34 91 299 9867




The main goal of our recently created “Dark Matter, AStroparticles and COsmology” (DAMASCO) research group at the UAM is to shed light on the fundamental nature of the dark matter in the Universe, which no doubt is one of the most important open questions in Science at present. We are very much interested in attacking the enigma of the dark matter in an astrophysical framework. Indeed, all the evidence that we have to believe in dark matter is purely astrophysical as of today. This dark matter has not been directly detected in the laboratory, yet its gravitational effects have been observed at all spatial scales, from the innermost regions of galaxies out to galaxy clusters and cosmological scales.


We are particularly active in the search for the dark matter particle. Among the preferred dark matter candidates, the so-called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) are, undoubtedly, the ones most intensely searched for. Different yet complementary approaches for their detection are possible: from laboratory-based searches, whose goal is the creation of the WIMP particles themselves, to direct detection experiments that look for traces of weak interactions between DM and ordinary matter, or indirect detection techniques which aim at detecting DM annihilation/decay products (such as gamma rays, neutrinos or antimatter).

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