High-Energy Physics at Adelaide
High-energy physics (HEP), also referred to as particle physics, is the study of fundamental particles and their interactions.
Fundamental (or elementary) particles, together with the forces that act between them, form the building blocks that we use to understand the universe in which we live. Our current understanding of the universe, in this context, can be concisely summarised as the elementary particles plus the four known forces: gravity; electromagnetism; the weak interaction; and the strong interaction. The last three forces have been combined into the so-called Standard Model of particle physics, and, as such, form a "theory of almost everything".
The Standard Model (SM) successfully predicted the W and Z bosons, the top quark, the tau neutrino and, most recently, the Higgs boson (discovered in 2013). Despite the enormous successes of the Standard Model, it does not include dark matter, dark energy or gravity, and so it is necessarily incomplete. The search for additional evidence of new physics Beyond the Standard Model (BSM), and the development of new theories that extend the SM- such as supersymmetry (SUSY)- form the core of activities in modern high-energy physics.
The High-Energy Physics group in Adelaide has both an experimental and a theoretical program. The experimental program is currently focused on collider searches for BSM physics with the ATLAS detector in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, and precision flavour physics studies using Belle II at KEK. Adelaide physicists were involved in the recent discovery of the Higgs boson by ATLAS. The theoretical program is broad and includes, for example, studies of: supersymmetry; composite Higgs and other BSM models; models of dark matter and its interaction with Standard Model particles; and precision tests of the Standard Model.
The HEP group at Adelaide also constitutes the Adelaide node of the Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP), which is funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). The four nodes of CoEPP comprise nodes at the University of Adelaide, the University of Melbourne (head node), Monash University and the University of Sydney.
The group also enjoys close ties with the ARC Special Research Centre for the Subatomic Structure of Matter (CSSM), which specialises in studies of the strong interaction, and with the High Energy Astrophysics group.