Journal Club

Seminar Room

If you want to propose a paper, you can contact Supratim Das Bakshi (sdb AT

Thursday 5th of April, 2018

An absorption profile centred at 78 megahertz in the sky-averaged spectrum



After stars formed in the early Universe, their ultraviolet light is expected, eventually, to have penetrated the primordial hydrogen gas and altered the excitation state of its 21-centimetre hyperfine line. This alteration would cause the gas to absorb photons from the cosmic microwave background, producing a spectral distortion that should be observable today at radio frequencies of less than 200 megahertz1. Here we report the detection of a flattened absorption profile in the sky-averaged radio spectrum, which is centred at a frequency of 78 megahertz and has a best-fitting full-width at half-maximum of 19 megahertz and an amplitude of 0.5 kelvin. The profile is largely consistent with expectations for the 21-centimetre signal induced by early stars; however, the best-fitting amplitude of the profile is more than a factor of two greater than the largest predictions2. This discrepancy suggests that either the primordial gas was much colder than expected or the background radiation temperature was hotter than expected. Astrophysical phenomena (such as radiation from stars and stellar remnants) are unlikely to account for this discrepancy; of the proposed extensions to the standard model of cosmology and particle physics, only cooling of the gas as a result of interactions between dark matter and baryons seems to explain the observed amplitude3. The low-frequency edge of the observed profile indicates that stars existed and had produced a background of Lyman-α photons by 180 million years after the Big Bang. The high-frequency edge indicates that the gas was heated to above the radiation temperature less than 100 million years later.

21cm absorption signal from charge sequestration

The unexpectedly strong 21cm absorption signal detected by the EDGES experiment suggests that the baryonic gas was colder at redshift $z\sim 17$ than predicted in the standard scenario. We discuss a mechanism to lower the baryon temperature after recombination. We introduce a stable, negatively-charged particle with a non-negligible cosmological abundance, such that the universe remains charge-neutral but the electron and proton numbers are no longer equal. The deficit of electrons during recombination results in an earlier decoupling of the baryon gas temperature from that of the CMB. This implies a smaller ratio of the gas and CMB temperature at $z\sim 17$. The parameter space of the mechanism where the 21 cm absorption signal is significantly enhanced is probed by the CMB spectrum, cooling of stars and supernovae, and colliders. Nevertheless, we find viable regions corresponding to sub-eV or MeV-scale milli-charged particles, or to TeV-scale multi-charged particles.
Comments: 5 pages; v2: typos corrected, references and comments added, expanded discussion of large-charge window
Subjects: High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (hep-ph); Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (astro-ph.CO)
Cite as: arXiv:1803.10096 [hep-ph]
  (or arXiv:1803.10096v2 [hep-ph] for this version)

Presented by J. Santiago

Signs of Dark Matter at 21-cm?

Recently the EDGES collaboration reported an anomalous absorption signal in the sky-averaged 21-cm spectrum around $z=17$. Such a signal may be understood as an indication for an unexpected cooling of the hydrogen gas during or prior to the so called Cosmic Dawn era. Here we explore the possibility that dark matter cooled the gas through velocity-dependent, Rutherford-like interactions. We argue that such interactions require a light mediator that is highly constrained by 5th force experiments and limits from stellar cooling. Consequently, only a hidden or the visible photon can in principle mediate such a force. Neutral hydrogen thus plays a sub-leading role and the cooling occurs via the residual free electrons and protons. We find that these two scenarios are strongly constrained by the predicted dark matter self-interactions and by limits on millicharged dark matter respectively. We conclude that the 21-cm absorption line is unlikely to be the result of gas cooling via the scattering with a dominant component of the dark matter. An order 1\% subcomponent of millicharged dark matter remains a viable explanation.
Subjects: High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (hep-ph); Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (astro-ph.CO)
Cite as: arXiv:1803.03091 [hep-ph]
  (or arXiv:1803.03091v1 [hep-ph] for this version)

Presented by M. Bastero