Non-parametric uncertainties in the dark matter velocity distribution

Andrew Fowlie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the impact of uncertainty in the velocity distribution of dark matter on direct detection experiments. We construct an multinomial prior with a hyperparameter β that describes the strength of our belief in an isotropic Maxwell-Boltzmann velocity distribution. By varying β, we interpolate between a halo-independent and halo-dependent analysis. We present a novel approximation for the marginalisation of this prior that is applicable to any counting experiment. With this formula, we investigate the impact of the uncertainty in limits from XENON1T. For dark matter masses greater than about 60 GeV, we find extremely mild sensitivity to the distribution. Below about 60 GeV, the limit weakens by less than an order of magnitude if we assume an isotropic distribution in the galactic frame. If we permit anisotropic distributions, the limit further weakens, but at most by about two orders of magnitude. Lastly, we check the impact of parametric uncertainties and discuss the possible inclusion and impact of our technique in global fits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number006
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Dark matter experiments
  • Dark matter theory


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