Evaluating Lyman- α constraints for general dark-matter velocity distributions: Multiple scales and cautionary tales

Keith R. Dienes, Fei Huang, Jeff Kost, Brooks Thomas, Hai Bo Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


One of the most important observational constraints on possible models of dark-matter physics exploits the Lyman-α absorption spectrum associated with photons traversing the intergalactic medium. Because these data allow us to probe the linear matter power spectrum with great accuracy down to relatively small distance scales, finding ways of accurately evaluating such Lyman-α constraints across large classes of candidate models of dark-matter physics is of paramount importance. While such Lyman-α constraints have been evaluated for dark-matter models that give rise to relatively simple dark-matter velocity distributions, more complex models - particularly those whose dark-matter velocity distributions stretch across multiple scales - have recently been receiving increasing attention. In this paper, we undertake a study of the Lyman-α constraints associated with general dark-matter velocity distributions. Although such Lyman-α constraints are difficult to evaluate in principle, in practice there currently exist two classes of methods in the literature through which such constraints can be recast into forms which are easier to evaluate and which therefore allow a more rapid determination of whether a given dark-matter model is ruled in or out. Accordingly, we utilize both of these recasts in order to determine the Lyman-α bounds on different classes of dark-matter velocity distributions. We also develop a general method by which the results of these different recasts can be compared. For relatively simple dark-matter velocity distributions, we demonstrate that these two classes of recasts tend to align and give similar results. However, we find that the situation is far more complex for distributions involving multiple velocity scales: while these two classes of recasts continue to yield similar results within certain regions of parameter space, they nevertheless yield dramatically different results within precisely those regions of parameter space which are likely to be phenomenologically relevant. This, then, serves as a cautionary tale regarding the use of such recasts for complex dark-matter velocity distributions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123521
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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