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  1. Abstract

    Dark matter freeze-in is a compelling cosmological production mechanism in which all or some of the observed abundance of dark matter is generated through feeble interactions it has with the Standard Model. In this work we present the first analysis of freeze-in dark matter fluctuations and consider two benchmark models: freeze-in through the direct decay of a heavy vector boson and freeze-in through pair annihilation of Standard Model particles in the thermal bath. We provide a theoretical framework for determining the impact of freeze-in on curvature and dark matter isocurvature perturbations. We determine freeze-in dark matter fluid properties from first principles, tracking its evolution from its relativistic production to its final cold state, and calculate the evolution of the dark matter isocurvature perturbation. We find that in the absence of initial isocurvature, the freeze-in production of dark matter does not source isocurvature. However, for an initial isocurvature perturbation seeded by inflation, the nonthermal freeze-in process may allow for a fraction of the isocurvature to persist, in contrast to the exponential suppression it receives in the case of thermal dark matter. In either case, the evolution of the curvature mode is unaffected by the freeze-in process. We show sensitivity projections of future cosmic microwave background experiments to the amplitude of uncorrelated, totally anticorrelated, and totally correlated dark matter isocurvature perturbations. From these projections, we infer the sensitivity to the abundance of freeze-in dark matter that sustains some fraction of the primordial isocurvature.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  2. A<sc>bstract</sc>

    Dark matter scattering off a nucleus has a small probability of inducing an observable ionization through the inelastic excitation of an electron, called the Migdal effect. We use an effective field theory to extend the computation of the Migdal effect in semiconductors to regions of small momentum transfer to the nucleus, where the final state of the nucleus is no longer well described by a plane wave. Our analytical result can be fully quantified by the measurable dynamic structure factor of the semiconductor, which accounts for the vibrational degrees of freedom (phonons) in a crystal. We show that, due to the sum rules obeyed by the structure factor, the inclusive Migdal rate and the shape of the electron recoil spectrum is well captured by approximating the nuclei in the crystal as free ions; however, the exclusive differential rate with respect to energy depositions to the crystal depends on the phonon dynamics encoded in the dynamic structure function of the specific material. Our results now allow the Migdal effect in semiconductors to be evaluated even for the lightest dark matter candidates (mχ≳ 1 MeV) that can kinematically excite electrons.

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