Faculté des sciences

Searching for axion stars and $Q$-balls with a terrestrial magnetometer network

Kimball, D. F. Jackson ; Budker, D. ; Eby, J. ; Pospelov, M. ; Pustelny, Szymon ; Scholtes, Theo ; Stadnik, Y. V. ; Weis, Antoine ; Wickenbrock, A.

In: Physical Review D, 2018, vol. 97, no. 4, p. 043002

Light (pseudo-)scalar fields are promising candidates to be the dark matter in the Universe. Under certain initial conditions in the early Universe and/or with certain types of self-interactions, they can form compact dark-matter objects such as axion stars or Q-balls. Direct encounters with such objects can be searched for by using a global network of atomic magnetometers. It is shown that... More

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    Summary
    Light (pseudo-)scalar fields are promising candidates to be the dark matter in the Universe. Under certain initial conditions in the early Universe and/or with certain types of self-interactions, they can form compact dark-matter objects such as axion stars or Q-balls. Direct encounters with such objects can be searched for by using a global network of atomic magnetometers. It is shown that for a range of masses and radii not ruled out by existing observations, the terrestrial encounter rate with axion stars or Q-balls can be sufficiently high (at least once per year) for a detection. Furthermore, it is shown that a global network of atomic magnetometers is sufficiently sensitive to pseudoscalar couplings to atomic spins so that a transit through an axion star or Q-ball could be detected over a broad range of unexplored parameter space.