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Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Oct 2;115(14):141301. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.141301. Epub 2015 Sep 29.

Dark Matter Ignition of Type Ia Supernovae.

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Department of Physics, University of Notre Dame, 225 Nieuwland Hall, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA.


Recent studies of low redshift type Ia supernovae (SN Ia) indicate that half explode from less than Chandrasekhar mass white dwarfs, implying ignition must proceed from something besides the canonical criticality of Chandrasekhar mass SN Ia progenitors. We show that 1-100 PeV mass asymmetric dark matter, with imminently detectable nucleon scattering interactions, can accumulate to the point of self-gravitation in a white dwarf and collapse, shedding gravitational potential energy by scattering off nuclei, thereby heating the white dwarf and igniting the flame front that precedes SN Ia. We combine data on SN Ia masses with data on the ages of SN Ia-adjacent stars. This combination reveals a 2.8σ inverse correlation between SN Ia masses and ignition ages, which could result from increased capture of dark matter in 1.4 vs 1.1 solar mass white dwarfs. Future studies of SN Ia in galactic centers will provide additional tests of dark-matter-induced type Ia ignition. Remarkably, both bosonic and fermionic SN Ia-igniting dark matter also resolve the missing pulsar problem by forming black holes in ≳10  Myr old pulsars at the center of the Milky Way.

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