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Improved treatment of dark matter capture in compact stars

Sandra Robles

SciPost Phys. Proc. 12, 057 (2023) · published 5 July 2023

Proceedings event

14th International Conference on Identification of Dark Matter


Compact stellar objects are promising cosmic laboratories to test the nature of dark matter (DM). DM captured by the strong gravitational field of these stellar remnants transfers kinetic energy to the star during the collision. This can have various effects such as anomalous heating of old compact stars. The proper calculation of the DM capture rate is key to derive bounds on DM interactions in any scenario involving DM accretion in a star. We improve former calculations, which rely on approximations, for both white dwarfs (WDs) and neutron stars (NSs). We account for the stellar structure, gravitational focusing, relativistic kinematics, Pauli blocking, realistic form factors, and strong interactions (NSs). Considering DM capture by scattering off either ions or degenerate electrons in WDs, we show that old WDs in DM-rich environments could probe the elusive sub-GeV mass regime for both DM-nucleon and DM-electron scattering. In NSs, DM can be captured via collisions with strongly interacting baryons or relativistic leptons. We project the NS sensitivity to DM-nucleon and DM-lepton scattering cross sections which greatly exceeds that of direct detection experiments, especially for low mass DM.

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