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Matter and the Universe

Programme Spokesperson (Helmholtz):
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.
Johannes Blümer

Programme Spokesperson (KIT):
Dr. Andreas Haungs

Programme Management (Helmholtz):
Dr. Andreas Haungs
Dr. Bianca Keilhauer

Programme Management (KIT):
Dr. Bianca Keilhauer

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1
D-76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen

Postal address:
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Nuclear Physics (IKP)
Postfach 3640
D-76021 Karlsruhe

phone: +49/721/608-23546
fax: +49/721/608-23548



Programme Matter and the Universe (KIT, DESY, FZJ, GSI)

The task of the programme Matter and the Universe is literally to connect quarks and leptons to the cosmos. Disciplines such as elementary particle physics, astroparticle physics, the physics of hadrons and nuclei, atomic and plasma physics join forces to find answers to fundamental questions, including

  • What is the origin, structure and future of the Universe?
  • What are the building blocks of matter and how do they interact?
  • How did complex structures form?

These questions are jointly addressed by researchers working in large international collaborations. The communities are connected in vivid networks and three Helmholtz Alliances among Helmholtz Centres, universities and other research centres. They have excellent and unique infrastructures at their disposal, including numerous large detectors, underground laboratories, and observatories for viewing deep into the cosmos.

Matter and the Universe is organized in three topics:

Fundamental Particles and Forces (KIT, DESY)

This topic focuses on our understanding of the fundamental building blocks of matter and the forces between them. Emphasis is put on

  • unravelling the mechanism of electroweak symmetry breaking for which the recently discovered Higgs-like particle is believed to play a key role and which is the basis for generating mass of fundamental particles,
  • the unification of forces and the search for extra dimensions, and
  • the understanding of the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe.

Cosmic Matter in the Laboratory (FZJ, GSI)

This programme topic is dedicated to the following research themes:

  • quark-gluon dynamics and phases in very dense and/or very hot nuclear matter,
  • the dynamics, structure and stability of hadrons, the mechanism of hadronisation, and
  • strong CP-violation, and
  • the generation of complex clusters of elementary matter and chemical elements and the
  • limits of stability for exotic nuclei, the symmetry between matter and antimatter.

Matter and Radiation from the Universe (KIT, DESY)

Astroparticle physics in Germany has developed an internationally distinct scientific profile with the high visibility of the Helmholtz Association. This programme topic concentrates on key aspects of astroparticle physics. The scientific goals include

  • understanding the origin and properties of the most energetic cosmic particles,
  • the establishment of multi-messenger astroparticle physics using high-energy neutrinos, photons and charged particles,
  • identification and understanding of Dark Matter, and
  • the clarification of the properties of neutrinos, in particular their mass.

LK2-Anlagen (KIT, DESY)

The enormous scientific success of the LHC experiments was made possible by a truly distributed computing infrastructure. It consists of a global collaboration of more than 150 computing centres in 36 countries, organized within the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG) in a Tier-structure consisting of the Tier-0 centre at CERN and national, or in some cases transnational, Tier-1 and Tier-2 centres.

The participating Helmholtz centres KIT (Tier-1 centre GridKa)  and DESY (Tier-2 centre) have demonstrated a high throughput, with high effiency and high reliability.

On the international level, KIT is involved in the Pierre Auger-Observatory for the investigation of cosmic radiation, the EDELWEISS experiment for direct search for Dark Matter and the KATRIN facility in neutrino physics. It also operates the Grid Computing Centre Karlsruhe (GridKa).