Universiteit Leiden

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Hunting dark matter with X-rays

Promotor: A. Achúcarro Co-promotor: A. Boyarsky

Jeroen Franse
20 December 2016
Thesis in Leiden Repository

The nature of the Dark Matter is one of the biggest open questions in modern cosmology and particle physics. The work in this thesis concerns a search for the observational effects of one particular class of hypothetical Dark Matter particles, namely those that are allowed to decay. In decaying, X-ray photons are emitted and should be observable. One part of the thesis details the discovery of a potential Dark Matter decay signal in X-ray spectra of galaxies and galaxy clusters, and the subsequent efforts to identify its origin. To this end archival data and new observations are compared to the respective Dark Matter masses of the observed objects. Interpretations of the signal as an instrumental effect, or due to regular astrophysical processes are unsatisfactory. Although the Dark Matter interpretation remains plausible, definitive conclusions about the origin of the signal can not be drawn yet and will require measurements by next generation observatories. The last chapter of the thesis contains the proof-of-concept of a novel technique to search for such weak signals that combines increased statistical power with the ability to determine the physical origin of a signal, while avoiding some of the disadvantages of traditional methods.