Cosmology - the understanding of our Universe and the physical laws that govern the world – is at the moment going through what might be called a “golden age”. The last decade has seen enormous progress in the field, which has been transformed from a science of speculation and half-baked ideas to a discipline where precision studies and detailed predictions are possible. The pace of deployment of new instruments giving new insights will be even more rapid during the coming decade. As a result, our understanding of the Universe, which has already improved dramatically, will become even more complete and it will become possible to address, and perhaps answer, difficult, challenging and fundamental questions reaching deep into theories of elementary particles.
The current concordance model of cosmology states that the Universe mainly consists of so called Dark Matter and Dark Energy, whereas ordinary atomic matter only makes up a small fraction of the total energy budget.
Dark matter is most likely made up of a so far undetected type of particle, and the properties of proposed models of such particles is explored within the OKC. This will enable us to interpret the coming results from a variety of experiments used by the collaboration – based on detection of both gamma-rays and neutrinos, as well as of antimatter.
The other big question, the dark energy component responsible for the observed accelerated expansion of the Universe, will be addressed using gravitational lensing as well as supernovae as standard candles, to determine its properties. The detailed physics of supernovae, and of other compact objects like black holes and the objects causing gamma-ray bursts, is largely unknown and is also a subject of study of the collaboration.
All the pieces of gathered information will be synthesized in joint work between theorists and experimentalists/observers, who will push the limit of knowledge further, attempting to answer the questions: What is the dark matter? What is dark energy? What physics lies behind the most energetic processes in the Universe?
To work against a solution of these questions, the OKC has been formed. The collaboration consists of a team of research groups conducting research within five different work packages. The research is focused against three central themes:
- Identifying theoretically, and probing observationally, measurable quantities of dark energy which can clarify the nature of this mysterious component of the energy density of the Universe.
- Searching experimentally for particle candidates of dark matter, which naturally means going beyond the standard model of particle physics, and if found, determining their properties and elucidating the underlying theoretical framework.
- Investigating the physics of extreme objects, such as supernovae, neutron stars, and black holes.
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