Angular signatures for galactic halo weakly interacting massive particle scattering in direct detectors: Prospects and challenges

Craig J. Copi, Lawrence M. Krauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Angular sensitivity can provide a key additional tool which might allow unambiguous separation of a signal due to galactic halo WIMPs from other possible backgrounds in direct detectors. We provide a formalism that allows a calculation of the expected angular distribution of events in terrestrial detectors with angular sensitivity for any incident distribution of galactic halo dark matter. This can be used as an input when studying the sensitivity of specific detectors to halo WIMPs. We utilize this formalism to examine the expected signature for WIMP dark matter using a variety of existing analytic halo models in order to explore how uncertainty in the galactic halo distribution impact on the the event rates that may be required to separate a possible WIMP signal from terrestrial backgrounds. We find that as few as 30 events might be required to disentangle the signal from backgrounds if the WIMP distribution resembles an isothermal sphere distribution. On the other hand, for certain halo distributions, even detectors with fine angular resolution may require in excess of a 100-400 events to distinguish a WIMP signal from backgrounds using angular sensitivity. We also note that for finite thresholds the different energy dependence of spin-dependent scattering cross sections may require a greater number of events to discern a WIMP signal than for spin independent interactions. Finally, we briefly describe ongoing studies aimed at developing strategies to better exploit angular signatures, and the use of N-body simulations to better model the expected halo distribution in predicting the expected signature for direct WIMP detectors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number043507
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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