A generic formation mechanism of ultralight dark matter solar halos

Dmitry Budker, Joshua Eby, Marco Gorghetto, Minyuan Jiang, Gilad Perez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As-yet undiscovered light bosons may constitute all or part of the dark matter (DM) of our Universe, and are expected to have (weak) self-interactions. We show that the quartic self-interactions generically induce the capture of dark matter from the surrounding halo by external gravitational potentials such as those of stars, including the Sun. This leads to the subsequent formation of dark matter bound states supported by such external potentials, resembling gravitational atoms (e.g. a solar halo around our own Sun). Their growth is governed by the ratio ξ foc ≡ λdB/R between the de Broglie wavelength of the incoming DM waves, λdB, and the radius of the ground state R . For ξ foc ≲ 1, the gravitational atom grows to an (underdense) steady state that balances the capture of particles and the inverse (stripping) process. For ξ foc ≳ 1, a significant gravitational-focusing effect leads to exponential accumulation of mass from the galactic DM halo into the gravitational atom. For instance, a dark matter axion with mass of the order of 10-14 eV and decay constant between 107 and 108 GeV would form a dense halo around the Sun on a timescale comparable to the lifetime of the Solar System, leading to a local DM density at the position of the Earth O(104) times larger than that expected in the standard halo model. For attractive self-interactions, after its formation, the gravitational atom is destabilized at a large density, which leads to its collapse; this is likely to be accompanied by emission of relativistic bosons (a `Bosenova').

Original languageEnglish
Article number021
Number of pages67
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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