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High Energy Physics Seminar

Monday, December 7, 2020
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Exoplanets as New Sub-GeV Dark Matter Detectors
Rebecca Leane, SLAC,

We present exoplanets as new targets to discover Dark Matter (DM), with advantages due to their large expected abundance, low temperatures, and large sizes. Throughout the Milky Way, DM can scatter, become captured, deposit annihilation energy, and increase the heat flow within exoplanets. We estimate upcoming infrared telescope sensitivity to this scenario, finding actionable discovery or exclusion searches. We find that DM with masses above about an MeV can be probed with exoplanets, with DM-proton and DM-electron scattering cross sections down to about 10^-37 cm^2, stronger than existing limits by up to six orders of magnitude. Supporting evidence of a DM origin can be identified through DM-induced exoplanet heating correlated with Galactic position, and hence DM density. This also allows a potential tracer of DM overdensities. Our results provide new motivation to measure the temperature of the billions of brown dwarfs, rogue planets, and gas giants peppered throughout our Galaxy.

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