Boltzmann-Fokker-Planck formalism for dark-matter--baryon scattering.
Linear-cosmology observables, such as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), or the large-scale distribution of matter, have long been used as clean probes of dark matter (DM) interactions with baryons. It is standard to model the DM as an ideal fluid with a thermal Maxwell-Boltzmann (MB) velocity distribution, in order to compute the heat and momentum-exchange rates relevant to these probes. This approximation only applies in the limit where DM self-interactions are frequent enough to efficiently redistribute DM velocities. It does not accurately describe weakly self-interacting particles, whose velocity distribution unavoidably departs from MB once they decouple from baryons. This article lays out a new formalism required to accurately model DM-baryon scattering, even when DM self-interactions are negligible. The ideal fluid equations are replaced by the collisional Boltzmann equation for the DM phase-space distribution. The collision operator is approximated by a Fokker-Planck operator, constructed to recover the exact heat and momentum exchange rates, and allowing for an efficient numerical implementation. Numerical solutions to the background evolution are presented, which show that the MB approximation can over-estimate the heat-exchange rate by factors of ~ 2-3, especially for light DM particles. A Boltzmann-Fokker-Planck hierarchy for perturbations is derived. This new formalism allows to explore a wider range of DM models, and will be especially relevant for upcoming ultra-high-sensitivity CMB probes.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1811.09903
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