Signature of non-standard cosmologies: from dark matter to primordial black holes
If the dark matter is produced in the early universe prior to Big Bang nucleosynthesis, a modified cosmological history can drastically affect the abundance of relic dark matter particles. Here, we assume that an additional species to radiation dominates at early times, whose energy density red-shifts faster than radiation, causing the expansion rate at a given temperature to be larger than in the standard radiation-dominated case. We consider the cases of dark matter production via freeze-out and freeze-in in theses non-standard cosmologies.
For the first case, dark matter freeze-out occurs at higher temperatures compared to the standard case, implying that reproducing the observed abundance requires significantly larger annihilation rates. Here, we point out a completely new phenomenon, which we refer to as relentless dark matter: for large enough values of n, unlike the standard case where annihilation ends shortly after the departure from thermal equilibrium, dark matter particles keep annihilating long after leaving chemical equilibrium, with a significant depletion of the final relic abundance. For the case of dark matter production via freeze-in (a scenario when dark matter interacts very weakly, and is dumped in the early universe out of equilibrium by decay or scattering processes involving particles in the thermal bath) the abundance is dramatically suppressed. We quantitatively and analytically study this phenomenon for three different paradigmatic classes of freeze-in scenarios. For the frozen-in dark matter abundance to be as large as observations, couplings between the dark matter and visible sector particles must be enhanced by several orders of magnitude. This sheds some optimistic prospects for the otherwise dire experimental and observational outlook of detecting dark matter produced by freeze-in.
Finally, the recent discovery of gravitational waves from binary black hole mergers has given us a new way to study our universe, but the origin of the black holes binaries remains unclear. We investigate how to use information on the effective spin parameter of binary black hole mergers from the LIGO-Virgo gravitational wave detections to discriminate the origin of the merging black holes. We calculate the expected probability distribution function for the effective spin parameter for primordial black holes. Using LIGO-Virgo observations, we then calculate odds ratios for different models for the distribution of black holes' spin magnitude and alignment. We evaluate the posterior probability density for a possible mixture of astrophysical and primordial black holes as emerging from current data, and calculate the number of future merger events needed to discriminate different spin and alignment models at a given level of statistical significance.