Testing light dark matter coannihilation with fixed-target experiments

Eder Izaguirre, Yonatan Kahn, Gordan Krnjaic, Matthew Moschella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We introduce a novel program of fixed-target searches for thermal-origin dark matter (DM), which couples inelastically to the Standard Model. Since the DM only interacts by transitioning to a heavier state, freeze-out proceeds via coannihilation and the unstable heavier state is depleted at later times. For sufficiently large mass splittings, direct detection is kinematically forbidden and indirect detection is impossible, so this scenario can only be tested with accelerators. Here we propose new searches at proton-A nd electron-beam fixed-target experiments to probe sub-GeV coannihilation, exploiting the distinctive signals of up-A nd downscattering as well as decay of the excited state inside the detector volume. We focus on a representative model in which DM is a pseudo-Dirac fermion coupled to a hidden gauge field (dark photon), which kinetically mixes with the visible photon. We define theoretical targets in this framework and determine the existing bounds by reanalyzing results from previous experiments. We find that LSND, E137, and BABAR data already place strong constraints on the parameter space consistent with a thermal freeze-out origin, and that future searches at Belle II and MiniBooNE, as well as recently proposed fixed-target experiments such as LDMX and BDX, can cover nearly all remaining gaps. We also briefly comment on the discovery potential for proposed beam dump and neutrino experiments which operate at much higher beam energies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number055007
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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