Lets have theory which describes (cold) dark matter candidate. I know two cosmological (not astrophysical) restrictions for particle: its lifetime has to be larger than the lifetime of the Universe, and its energy density has to correspond CDM density. What are the other restrictions?

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    $\begingroup$ This is an awfully broad question. I think it would be better for you to pursue this yourself and come back to us with any more specific questions. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2015 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ In my opinion, there is nothing broad in this question. I've asked only about criterions, which can be formulaten in one-two sentences, as two criterions which I've described in the question. $\endgroup$
    – Name YYY
    Aug 10, 2015 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ its lifetime has to be larger than the lifetime of the Universe Could you expand on that a bit? I fully admit I know very little about the subject, but I don't follow the logic of that statement. No problem if it's too much to answe in a comment, I can ask a question later. $\endgroup$
    – user81619
    Aug 10, 2015 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's a reasonable question as is - it doesn't strike me as too broad. But that's just me. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Aug 10, 2015 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ Am with @DavidZ, this seems fine as-is to me. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Oman
    Aug 12, 2015 at 15:24

2 Answers 2


Good question!

I agree with the two restrictions on dark matter (DM) that you mentioned. In total I would mention four main restrictions:

  • It must be non-luminous:

In practice this means no coupling (or extremely weak) to $U(1)_{em}$ and no coupling to $SU(3)_c$. We know it cannot interact with the strong force because e.g. radiation of gluons would give rise, among other things, to neural pions that decay to photons.

  • It must have a very weak self interaction:

Many observations constrain the self interaction properties of DM. A velocity dependent interaction however could get around the strongest constraints on some scales to give a significant self interaction on other scales.

  • It must be cold:

DM has to be non-relativistic during structure formation, this means it must have a mass larger than $m_\chi \gtrsim 1$ keV.

  • It must be stable:

If DM had a decay rate comparable to the age of the universe it would affect cosmology significantly, something we do not see.

In addition to these restrictions there are a lot of other restrictions that depends on assumptions of your theory. An important example is that of thermally produced dark matter. If you assume that DM was, at some point, in thermal equilibrium with the standard model particles, then we can use the fact that we know the current DM density to find the annihilation rate of DM. The result you end up with looks something like this: $$ \langle \sigma v \rangle_{\text{ann}} \approx 2.5\cdot10^{-9} \text{GeV}^{-2} \approx 10^{-36} \text{cm}^2 \approx 3 \cdot10^{-26} \text{cm}^3/\text{s} \approx 1 \, \text{pb},$$ where $\langle \sigma v \rangle_{\text{ann}}$ is the thermally averaged annihilation cross section. The exact numerical value depends somewhat on the model you are looking at, but always gives about the same order of magnitude as this.

The constraint from thermal production is more useful than the others because it is a specific result that your model must reproduce. That means that it doesn't just eliminate some parts of parameter space, but it (usually) lets you fix one of the parameters of your theory completely in therms of the other parameters.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your excellent answer! One small remark: restriction on mass of dark matter is valid only for case of thermal creation of DM particles. Case of non-thermal creation can avoid such restriction (for example, this is true for axion DM). $\endgroup$
    – Name YYY
    Aug 13, 2015 at 13:12

One astrophysical constraint is that dark matter particles must not be produced in too large numbers in stars. Suppose that the reaction $\gamma + Ze^+ \to \gamma + Ze^+ + D$ or something similar, is allowed where $D$ is a dark matter particle. Since a star is opaque to photons, that energy stays in the star, but the dark matter particle escapes, like neutrinos, and carries away energy.


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