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Secular effects of Ultralight Dark Matter on Binary Pulsars

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Diego Blas, Diana López Nacir, Sergey Sibiryakov

Original languageEnglish
Article number063016
Pages (from-to)1-26
JournalPhysical Review D (Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology)
Issue number6
Early online date13 Mar 2020
Accepted/In press25 Feb 2020
E-pub ahead of print13 Mar 2020
Published15 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

24 pages, 3 figures, 3 tables; in v2 we introduced new clarifications, updated fig. 3 to include current bounds and agrees with the published version


King's Authors


Dark matter (DM) can consist of very light bosons behaving as a classical scalar field that experiences coherent oscillations. The presence of this DM field would perturb the dynamics of celestial bodies, either because the (oscillating) DM stress tensor modifies the gravitational potentials of the galaxy or if DM is directly coupled to the constituents of the body. We study secular variations of the orbital parameters of binary systems induced by such perturbations. Two classes of effects are identified. Effects of the first class appear if the frequency of DM oscillations is in resonance with the orbital motion; these exist for general DM couplings including the case of purely gravitational interaction. Effects of the second class arise if DM is coupled quadratically to the masses of the binary system members and do not require any resonant condition. The exquisite precision of binary pulsar timing can be used to constrain these effects. Current observations are not sensitive to oscillations in the galactic gravitational field, though a discovery of pulsars in regions of high DM density may improve the situation. For DM with direct coupling to ordinary matter, the current timing data are already competitive with other existing constraints in the range of DM masses ∼10-22-10-18 eV. Future observations are expected to increase the sensitivity and probe new regions of parameters.

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