Professor Jeremy Sakstein Awarded Prestigious Cosmology Prize.

Assistant Professor Jeremy SaksteinProfessor Jeremy Sakstein has been awarded the 2021 Buchalter Cosmology Prize for his pioneering work in cosmology, proposing novel methods to search for dark energy on Earth. The judging committee recognised the work as “opening new, unforeseen vistas for the scientific scope of direct detection dark matter experiments, exploring the tantalising prospect for terrestrial dark matter experiments to directly detect scalar particles, associated with the dark sector, produced in the strong magnetic field of the solar interior.” Sakstein’s findings are described in his paper “Direct detection of dark energy: the XENON1T excess and future prospects” (available here). For this work, Sakstein was awarded third prize and $2500 alongside his collaborators Sunny Vagnozzi (University of Cambridge), Luca Visinelli (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), Anne-Christine Davis (University of Cambridge), and Philippe Brax (University of Paris-Saclay).

Dark energy is the mysterious component of our universe that drives the acceleration of the cosmic expansion. Dark energy accounts for 75% of the energy budget of the universe, and its physical nature is one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in modern physics. Sakstein showed that dark energy particles produced by the magnetic field of the Sun could be detected on Earth by experiments actively looking for the other 25% of the universe’s energy budget — dark matter, which is responsible for forming galaxies in the early universe. In 2020, an experiment called XENON1T reported an excess signal over the background but this mysterious signal cannot be explained by dark matter. Sakstein and collaborators argued that this excess could be explained by solar dark energy particles. His work opens the exciting possibility of detecting dark energy particles on Earth in planned future detectors, and directly detecting dark energy within the next decade.

Established in 2014 by Ari Buchalter, a former astrophysicist turned entrepreneur, the Buchalter Cosmology Prize seeks to stimulate ground-breaking theoretical, observational, or experimental work in cosmology that has the potential to produce a breakthrough advance in our understanding. We are delighted that Sakstein’s pioneering and innovative research has been recognized by this prestigious award.