New Constraints on Macroscopic Dark Matter Using Radar Meteor Detectors

Pawan Dhakal, Steven Prohira, Christopher V. Cappiello, John F. Beacom, Scott Palo, John Marino

Submitted on 15 September 2022


We show that dark-matter candidates with large masses and large nuclear interaction cross sections are detectable with terrestrial radar systems. We develop our results in close comparison to successful radar searches for tiny meteoroids, aggregates of ordinary matter. The path of a meteoroid (or suitable dark-matter particle) through the atmosphere produces ionization deposits that reflect incident radio waves. We calculate the equivalent radar echoing area or `radar cross section' for dark matter. By comparing the expected number of dark-matter-induced echoes with observations, we set new limits in the plane of dark-matter mass and cross section, complementary to pre-existing cosmological limits. Our results are valuable because (A) they open a new detection technique for which the reach can be greatly improved and (B) in case of a detection, the radar technique provides differential sensitivity to the mass and cross section, unlike cosmological probes.


Comment: Main text 14 pages and 11 figures, Appendix 2 pages and 3 figures

Subjects: High Energy Physics - Phenomenology; Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics; Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics