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A dark matter thought experiment

20 Dec 2017, 01:08 UTC
A dark matter thought experiment
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My colleague from OSU, Annika Peter, and I just put out a fairly massive paper, thinking about all the ways we can learn about the particle physics of dark matter by looking at its gravitational effects on astrophysical systems. We open the paper with a thought experiment (largely the brainchild of Prof. Peter), and it's too good to leave as a footnote for the main blog post on the paper, so I split it out here. We're interested in thinking about the questionWhat can you learn about the particle physics properties of dark matter from measuring the gravitational imprint of the location and evolution of dark matter?That is, we want to know if we can learn about the existence of non-trivial interactions in the "dark sector:" that is, does dark matter have internal forces beyond gravity? Does it decay? Is dark matter just one particle, or many? Do they interact? Many of the most popular models of dark matter (for example, Weakly Interacting Massive Particles from supersymmetry) are just one particle without significant interactions, and so have somewhat "boring" answers to these questions. But it doesn't have to be this way, and it is worth checking the data to see ...

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