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Deep Search for Decaying Dark Matter with XMM-Newton Blank-Sky Observations


Sterile neutrinos with masses in the keV range are well-motivated extensions to the Standard Model that could explain the observed neutrino masses while also making up the dark matter (DM) of the universe. If sterile neutrinos are DM then they may slowly decay into active neutrinos and photons, giving rise to the possibility of their detection through narrow spectral features in astrophysical x-ray data sets. In this Letter, we perform the most sensitive search to date for this and other decaying DM scenarios across the mass range from 5 to 16 keV using archival XMM-Newton data. We reduce 547 Ms of data from both the MOS and PN instruments using observations taken across the full sky and then use this data to search for evidence of DM decay in the ambient halo of the Milky Way. We determine the instrumental and astrophysical baselines with data taken far away from the Galactic Center, and use Gaussian process modeling to capture additional continuum background contributions. No evidence is found for unassociated x-ray lines, leading us to produce the strongest constraints to date on decaying DM in this mass range.

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