by Ioanna Papavergou

Hi there! As this is my first post at the blog let me introduce myself. My name is Ioanna Papavergou and I am the new ESR of the AMVA4NewPhysics selected for the position at IASA in Athens. I was born and raised in Kavala, a small city by the sea located in the northern part of Greece.

Physics was my passion since high school and so there was no other option to me than studying Physics during my undergrad studies, getting my Bachelor degree from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. During thelast couple of years of my studies I focused on nuclear physics and elementary particle courses together with some courses on astroparticle physics. It was then when I realised I am interested in the interface of particle physics and astrophysics and thus I studied the effect of nuclear physics on the emission of gravitational waves from neutron stars during my bachelor research project.

Since I was passionate about both particle and stars I couldn’t make up my mind on which path I should follow and so I combined the two by following a very special Master course in Gravitation and Astroparticle Physics at the University of Amsterdam (GRAPPA).

The research at the GRAPPA institute focuses at the intersection of theoretical particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology addressing questions such as what is the nature of Dark Matter, what is the origin and the acceleration mechanism of the cosmic rays, what is gravity and many more…

Apparently, the master course at the GRAPPA institute seemed the perfect choice for me, combing courses in theory and data analysis but also giving me the opportunity to spend two years in one of the most beautiful, interesting and international cities in Europe!!

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The nature and the properties of the elusive component of our Universe which comprises the 26.5\% of the total energy budget of our Universe intrigued me the most. Moreover, I was interested in using observations of the motions of the stars, called astrometrics, in order to get an insight into the dark matter distribution. During my master thesis project I used the stellar kinematics of a small group of stars located in the solar vicinity in order to measure the local dark matter density. I was honoured to have Dr. Gianfranco Bertone as my master thesis supervisor but also as my mentor. Gianfranco helped me deal with the very technical problem of astrometrics but also provided important advice regarding my next carrier steps.

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I was interested in measuring the local dark matter density in the solar vicinity as it is an important input parameter for both direct and indirect dark matter detection searches. An accurate determination of the local dark matter density is crucial for the scans of the theoretical parameter space of the dark matter. With the advent of the GAIA astrometric data we will be able to get a better constraint value of the local dark matter density, discarding assumptions entering our analysis method and using more accurate measurements of the motions of the stars.

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Gaia’s first sky map, released on 14/09/2016. Image credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC. An all sky map of the Milky Way and neighbouring galaxies coming from the first year of GAIA’s observations. Brighter regions indicate regions where the concentration of stars is denser.
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The GAIA satellite

Although I really enjoyed studied astroparticle physics, cosmology and astrometrics I am always curious in learning and working in new-to-me fields of physics. I believe that in this way I will be able to have a more well-rounded knowledge of physics. Moreover, the ESR position at IASA is offering a rich training program at international schools, workshops and conferences and also participation in the research program of AMVA4NewPhysics in searches for superpsymmetry and dark matter physics. All these reasons motivated me to apply for the ESR position at IASA and here I am !!

I am very excited for my new start in the field of experimental High Energy Physics and data analysis. I am really looking forward to meet every one of you and be part of the group.

Hope to see you all soon 🙂