Charting the Unknown: A Hunt in the Dark
Mohlabeng, Gopolang Mokoka
University of Kansas
Physics & Astronomy
Copyright held by the author.
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Astrophysical and cosmological observations have pointed strongly to the existence of dark matter in the Universe, yet its nature remains elusive. It may be hidden in a vast unknown parameter space in which exhaustively searching for a signal is not feasible. We are, therefore, compelled to consider a robust program based on a wide range of new theoretical ideas and complementary strategies for detection. The aim of this dissertation is to investigate the phenomenology of diverse dark sectors with the objective of understanding and characterizing dark matter. We do so by exploring dark matter phenomenology under three main frameworks of study: (I) the model dependent approach, (II) model independent approach and (III) considering simplified models. In each framework we focus on unexplored and well motivated dark matter scenarios as well as their prospects of detection at current and future experiments. First, we concentrate on the model dependent method where we consider minimal dark matter in the form of mixed fermionic stable states in a gauge extension of the standard model. In particular, we incorporate the fermion mixings governed by gauge invariant interactions with the heavier degrees of freedom. We find that the manner of mixing has an impact on the detectability of the dark matter at experiments. Pursuing this model dependent direction, we explore a space-time extension of the standard model which houses a vector dark matter candidate. We incorporate boundary terms arising from the topology of the model and find that these control the way dark matter may interact with baryonic matter. Next we investigate the model independent approach in which we examine a non-minimal dark sector in the form of boosted dark matter. In this study, we consider an effective field theory involving two stable fermionic states. We probe the sensitivity of this type of dark matter coming from the galactic center and the center of the Sun, and investigate its detection prospects at current and future large volume experiments. Finally, we explore an intermediate approach in the form of a simplified model. Here we analyze a different non-minimal dark sector in which its interactions with the standard model sector are mediated primarily by the Higgs Boson. We discuss for the first time a vector and fermion dark matter preserved under the same stabilization symmetry. We find that the presence of both species in the early Universe results in rare processes contributing to the dark matter relic abundance. We conclude that connecting these three frameworks under one main dark matter program, instead of concentrating on them individually, could help us understand what we are missing, and may assist us to produce ground breaking ideas which lead to the discovery of a signal in the near future.
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