Direct detection of ultralight dark matter bound to the Sun with space quantum sensors

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Nature Astronomy
Recent advances in quantum sensors, including atomic clocks, enable searches for a broad range of dark matter candidates. The question of the dark matter distribution in the Solar system critically affects the reach of dark matter direct detection experiments. Partly motivated by the NASA Deep Space Atomic Clock and the Parker Solar Probe, we show that space quantum sensors present new opportunities for ultralight dark matter searches, especially for dark matter states bound to the Sun. We show that space quantum sensors can probe unexplored parameter space of ultralight dark matter, covering theoretical relaxion targets motivated by naturalness and Higgs mixing. If a two-clock system were able to make measurements on the interior of the solar system, it could probe this highly sensitive region directly and set very strong constraints on the existence of such a bound-state halo in our solar system. We present sensitivity projections for space-based probes of ultralight dark matter, which couples to electron, photon and gluon fields, based on current and future atomic, molecular and nuclear clocks.
This article was originally published in Nature Astronomy. The version of record is available at: This article will be embargoed until 06/05/2023.
atomic and molecular physics, dark energy and dark matter, space physics, theoretical nuclear physics
Tsai, YD., Eby, J. & Safronova, M.S. Direct detection of ultralight dark matter bound to the Sun with space quantum sensors. Nat Astron 7, 113–121 (2023).