SITP Seminar: Halometry from Astrometry

Nov 26, 2018 - 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Campus, Varian 355

Ken van Tilburg (Institute for Advanced Study / NYU)

Halometry---mapping out the spectrum, location, and kinematics of nonluminous structures inside the Galactic halo---can be realized via effects that variable weak gravitational lensing induces on the proper motions of stars and other luminous background sources. Modern astrometric surveys provide unprecedented positional precision along with a leap in the number of cataloged objects. Astrometry thus offers a new and sensitive probe of collapsed dark matter structures over a wide mass range, from one millionth to several million solar masses. It opens up a window into the spectrum of primordial curvature fluctuations with comoving wavenumbers between 5 Mpc^−1 and 10^5 Mpc^−1, scales hitherto poorly constrained. I will outline several detection strategies for dark matter substructure based on time-domain weak gravitational lensing, after summarizing existing techniques and constraints. I will present preliminary results from an on-going analysis based on Gaia's second data release. Finally, I will show that minimal models of axion-like dark matter naturally produce dense small-scale structures which can probed by the aforementioned astrometric lensing techniques.