Searching for keV sterile neutrino dark matter with x-ray microcalorimeter sounding rockets

E. Figueroa-Feliciano, A. J. Anderson, D. Castro, D. C. Goldfinger, J. Rutherford, M. E. Eckart, R. L. Kelley, C. A. Kilbourne, D. McCammon, K. Morgan, F. S. Porter, A. E. Szymkowiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


High-resolution X-ray spectrometers onboard suborbital sounding rockets can search for dark matter candidates that produce X-ray lines, such as decaying keV-scale sterile neutrinos. Even with exposure times and effective areas far smaller than XMM-Newton and Chandra observations, high-resolution, wide field of view observations with sounding rockets have competitive sensitivity to decaying sterile neutrinos. We analyze a subset of the 2011 observation by the X-ray Quantum Calorimeter instrument centered on Galactic coordinates with an effective exposure of 106 s, obtaining a limit on the sterile neutrino mixing angle of at 95% CL for a 7 keV neutrino. Better sensitivity at the level of at 95% CL for a 7 keV neutrino is achievable with future 300-s observations of the galactic center by the Micro-X instrument, providing a definitive test of the sterile neutrino interpretation of the reported 3.56 keV excess from galaxy clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number82
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 20 2015


  • Galaxy: halo
  • X-rays: diffuse background
  • dark matter
  • line: identification
  • neutrinos
  • techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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