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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Precision Higgs Physics, Effective Field Theory, and Dark Matter

  • Author(s): Henning, Brian Quinn
  • Advisor(s): Murayama, Hitoshi
  • et al.

The recent discovery of the Higgs boson calls for detailed studies of its properties. As precision measurements are indirect probes of new physics, the appropriate theoretical framework is effective field theory. In the first part of this thesis, we present a practical three-step procedure of using the Standard Model effective field theory (SM EFT) to connect ultraviolet (UV) models of new physics with weak scale precision observables. With this procedure, one can interpret precision measurements as constraints on the UV model concerned. We give a detailed explanation for calculating the effective action up to one-loop order in a manifestly gauge covariant fashion. The covariant derivative expansion dramatically simplifies the process of matching a UV model with the SM EFT, and also makes available a universal formalism that is easy to use for a variety of UV models. A few general aspects of renormalization group running effects and choosing operator bases are discussed. Finally, we provide mapping results between the bosonic sector of the SM EFT and a complete set of precision electroweak and Higgs observables to which present and near future experiments are sensitive.

With a detailed understanding of how to use the SM EFT, we then turn to applications and study in detail two well-motivated test cases. The first is singlet scalar field that enables the first-order electroweak phase transition for baryogenesis; the second example is due to scalar tops in the MSSM. We find both Higgs and electroweak measurements are sensitive probes of these cases.

The second part of this thesis centers around dark matter, and consists of two studies. In the first, we examine the effects of relic dark matter annihilations on big bang nucleosynthesis (BBN). The magnitude of these effects scale simply with the dark matter mass and annihilation cross-section, which we derive. Estimates based on these scaling behaviors indicate that BBN severely constrains hadronic and radiative dark matter annihilation channels in the previously unconsidered dark matter mass region MeV < m < 10 GeV. Interestingly, we find that BBN constraints on hadronic annihilation channels are competitive with similar bounds derived from the cosmic microwave background.

Our second study of dark matter concerns a possible connection with supersymmetry and the keV scale. Various theoretical and experimental considerations motivate models with high scale supersymmetry breaking. While such models may be difficult to test in colliders, we propose looking for signatures at much lower energies. We show that a keV line in the X-ray spectrum of galaxy clusters (such as the recently disputed 3.5 keV observation) can have its origin in a universal string axion coupled to a hidden supersymmetry breaking sector. A linear combination of the string axion and an additional axion in the hidden sector remains light, obtaining a mass of order 10 keV through supersymmetry breaking dynamics. In order to explain the X-ray line, the scale of supersymmetry breaking must be about 10^{11-12} GeV. This motivates high scale supersymmetry as in pure gravity mediation or minimal split supersymmetry and is consistent with all current limits. Since the axion mass is controlled by a dynamical mass scale, this mass can be much higher during inflation, avoiding isocurvature (and domain wall) problems associated with high scale inflation. In an appendix we present a mechanism for dilaton stabilization that additionally leads to O(1) modifications of the gaugino mass from anomaly mediation.

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