Researchers from the Institute of Physics identified a novel concept of using “afterglows” of supernova explosions due to Dark Matter (DM) interactions in detectors as new experimental signatures to Direct DM searches. The conventional approach of DM detection via its elastic scattering with the nucleus is restricted by small observable energies and the lack of complementary information. Supernova neutrinos (SNν) can transfer their kinetic energy to the DM in the cosmos. Upon arrival on Earth, these boosted-DM (BDM) would produce distinctive observables in large detectors. In addition, the Time-of-Flight distribution of the BDM events relative to the initial SNs neutrino burst are smoking-gun signatures for DM. A positive detection of SNνBDM can provide powerful constraints to DM masses and interaction cross-sections.

Limits derived by this analysis on SN1987a with data from the Super-Kamiokande experiment exceed the current bounds from BDM due to cosmic-rays by several orders of magnitude. The sensitivity reach of future detections of BDM due to SNν from the Galactic Center is projected, indicating potentials to probe a vast parameter space not previously accessible in DM searches.

The study is published in Physical Review Letters on March 14, 2023. The research work is led by former IoP postdoc fellow Yen-Hsun Lin (currently at the National Center for Theoretical Sciences) and coordinated by Associate Research Fellow Meng-Ru Wu, in collaboration with Distinguished Research Fellow Henry T. Wong of the Institution of Physics, Academia Sinica and Master student Wen-Hua Wu from National Taiwan University. This work represents a fruitful inter-disciplinary collaborative effort between the theory and experimental research groups, with contributions from university students.

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New Experimental Signatures Added to the Arsenal for Dark Matter Searches

▲Schematic drawing on the physics origin and experimental signatures of the “Afterglow” Time-of-Flight measurement from Boosted Dark Matter which acquires kinetic energy from neutrinos emitted in a supernova burst.