skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Axion-assisted production of sterile neutrino dark matter

Abstract

Sterile neutrinos can be generated in the early universe through oscillations with active neutrinos and represent a popular and well-studied candidate for our Universe’s dark matter. Stringent constraints from X-ray and gamma-ray line searches, however, have excluded the simplest of such models. Here in this paper, we propose a novel alternative to the standard scenario in which the mixing angle between the sterile and active neutrinos is a dynamical quantity, induced through interactions with a light axionlike field. As the energy density of the axionlike particles is diluted by Hubble expansion, the degree of mixing is reduced at late times, suppressing the decay rate and easily alleviating any tension with X-ray or gamma-ray constraints. Lastly, we present a simple model which illustrates the phenomenology of this scenario, and also describe a framework in which the QCD axion is responsible for the production of sterile neutrinos in the early universe.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]
  1. SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States); Univ. of Chicago, IL (United States). Enrico Fermi Inst.
  2. Fermi National Accelerator Lab. (FNAL), Batavia, IL (United States). Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics; Univ. of Chicago, IL (United States). Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics; Univ. of Chicago, IL (United States). Kavli Inst. for Cosmological Physics (KICP)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1360757
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1351688
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-76SF00515; AC02-07CH11359
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physical Review D
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 95; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2470-0010
Publisher:
American Physical Society (APS)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; 72 PHYSICS OF ELEMENTARY PARTICLES AND FIELDS

Citation Formats

Berlin, Asher, and Hooper, Dan. Axion-assisted production of sterile neutrino dark matter. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.95.075017.
Berlin, Asher, & Hooper, Dan. Axion-assisted production of sterile neutrino dark matter. United States. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.95.075017.
Berlin, Asher, and Hooper, Dan. Wed . "Axion-assisted production of sterile neutrino dark matter". United States. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.95.075017. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1360757.
@article{osti_1360757,
title = {Axion-assisted production of sterile neutrino dark matter},
author = {Berlin, Asher and Hooper, Dan},
abstractNote = {Sterile neutrinos can be generated in the early universe through oscillations with active neutrinos and represent a popular and well-studied candidate for our Universe’s dark matter. Stringent constraints from X-ray and gamma-ray line searches, however, have excluded the simplest of such models. Here in this paper, we propose a novel alternative to the standard scenario in which the mixing angle between the sterile and active neutrinos is a dynamical quantity, induced through interactions with a light axionlike field. As the energy density of the axionlike particles is diluted by Hubble expansion, the degree of mixing is reduced at late times, suppressing the decay rate and easily alleviating any tension with X-ray or gamma-ray constraints. Lastly, we present a simple model which illustrates the phenomenology of this scenario, and also describe a framework in which the QCD axion is responsible for the production of sterile neutrinos in the early universe.},
doi = {10.1103/PhysRevD.95.075017},
journal = {Physical Review D},
number = 7,
volume = 95,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Apr 12 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Wed Apr 12 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 2works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:
  • Sterile neutrinos can be generated in the early universe through oscillations with active neutrinos and represent a popular and well-studied candidate for our universe's dark matter. Stringent constraints from X-ray and gamma-ray line searches, however, have excluded the simplest of such models. In this letter, we propose a novel alternative to the standard scenario in which the mixing angle between the sterile and active neutrinos is a dynamical quantity, induced through interactions with a light axion-like field. As the energy density of the axion-like particles is diluted by Hubble expansion, the degree of mixing is reduced at late times, suppressingmore » the decay rate and easily alleviating any tension with X-ray or gamma-ray constraints. We present a simple model which illustrates the phenomenology of this scenario, and also describe a framework in which the QCD axion is responsible for the production of sterile neutrinos in the early universe.« less
  • Cited by 2
  • The generation of lepton asymmetry below the electroweak scale has a considerable impact on production of dark matter sterile neutrinos. Oscillations or decays of the heavier sterile neutrinos in the neutrino minimal standard model can give rise to the requisite lepton asymmetry, provided the masses of the heavier neutrinos are sufficiently degenerate. We study the renormalization group evolution of the mass difference of these singlet fermions to understand the degree of necessary fine-tuning. We construct an example of the model that can lead to a technically natural realization of this low-energy degeneracy.
  • Sterile neutrinos, fermions with no standard model couplings [SU(2) singlets], are predicted by most extensions of the standard model, and may be the dark matter. I describe the nonthermal production and linear perturbation evolution in the early universe of this dark matter candidate. I calculate production of sterile neutrino dark matter including effects of Friedmann dynamics dictated by the quark-hadron transition and particle population, the alteration of finite temperature effective mass of active neutrinos due to the presence of thermal leptons, and heating of the coupled species due to the disappearance of degrees of freedom in the plasma. These effectsmore » leave the sterile neutrinos with a nontrivial momentum distribution. I also calculate the evolution of sterile neutrino density perturbations in the early universe through the linear regime and provide a fitting function form for the transfer function describing the suppression of small-scale fluctuations for this warm dark matter candidate. The results presented here differ quantitatively from previous work due to the inclusion of the relevant physical effects during the production epoch.« less
  • We propose a new production mechanism for keV sterile neutrino Dark Matter. In our setting, we assume the existence of a scalar singlet particle which never entered thermal equilibrium in the early Universe, since it only couples to the Standard Model fields by a really small Higgs portal interaction. For suitable values of this coupling, the scalar can undergo the so-called freeze-in process, and in this way be efficiently produced in the early Universe. These scalars can then decay into keV sterile neutrinos and produce the correct Dark Matter abundance. While similar settings in which the scalar does enter thermalmore » equilibrium and then freezes out have been studied previously, the mechanism proposed here is new and represents a versatile extension of the known case. We perform a detailed numerical calculation of the DM production using a set of coupled Boltzmann equations, and we illustrate the successful regions in the parameter space. Our production mechanism notably can even work in models where active-sterile mixing is completely absent.« less