Benjamin R. Safdi

Benjamin R. Safdi
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Benjamin R. Safdi

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Pub Categories

High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (17)
High Energy Physics - Theory (12)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (12)
Physics - Statistical Mechanics (8)
Quantum Physics (7)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (6)
High Energy Physics - Experiment (6)
Physics - Instrumentation and Detectors (3)
Nonlinear Sciences - Exactly Solvable and Integrable Systems (1)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (1)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (1)
Nuclear Experiment (1)
Physics - Geophysics (1)

Publications Authored By Benjamin R. Safdi

Utilizing the Fermi measurement of the gamma-ray spectrum toward the Galactic Center, we derive some of the strongest constraints to date on the dark matter (DM) lifetime in the mass range from hundreds of MeV to above an EeV. Our profile-likelihood based analysis relies on 413 weeks of Fermi Pass 8 data from 200 MeV to 2 TeV, along with up-to-date models for diffuse gamma-ray emission within the Milky Way. We model Galactic and extragalactic DM decay and include contributions to the DM-induced gamma-ray flux resulting from both primary emission and inverse-Compton scattering of primary electrons and positrons. Read More

We present NPTFit, an open-source code package, written in python and cython, for performing non-Poissonian template fits (NPTFs). The NPTF is a recently-developed statistical procedure for characterizing the contribution of unresolved point sources (PSs) to astrophysical data sets. The NPTF was first applied to Fermi gamma-ray data to give evidence that the excess of ~GeV gamma-rays observed in the inner regions of the Milky Way likely arises from a population of sub-threshold point sources, and the NPTF has since found additional applications studying sub-threshold extragalactic sources at high Galactic latitudes. Read More

Astrophysical sources outside the Milky Way, such as active galactic nuclei and star-forming galaxies, leave their imprint on the gamma-ray sky as nearly isotropic emission referred to as the Extragalactic Gamma-Ray Background (EGB). While the brightest of these sources may be individually resolved, their fainter counterparts contribute diffusely. In this work, we use a recently-developed analysis method, called the Non-Poissonian Template Fit, on up to 93 months of publicly-available data from the Fermi Large Area Telescope to determine the properties of the point sources that comprise the EGB. Read More

Observations by the Fermi-LAT have uncovered a bright, spherically symmetric excess surrounding the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The spectrum of the gamma-ray excess peaks sharply at an energy ~2 GeV, exhibiting a hard spectrum at lower energies, and falls off quickly above an energy ~5 GeV. The spectrum of the excess above ~10 GeV is potentially an important discriminator between different physical models for its origin. Read More

We consider the diphoton excess observed by ATLAS and CMS using the most up-to-date data and estimate the preferred enhancement in the production rate between 8 TeV and 13 TeV. Within the framework of effective field theory (EFT), we then show that for both spin-0 and spin-2 Standard Model (SM) gauge-singlet resonances, two of the three processes S to ZZ, S to Z gamma, and S to WW must occur with a non-zero rate. Moreover, we demonstrate that these branching ratios are highly correlated in the EFT. Read More

When ultralight axion dark matter encounters a static magnetic field, it sources an effective electric current that follows the magnetic field lines and oscillates at the axion Compton frequency. We propose a new experiment to detect this axion effective current. In the presence of axion dark matter, a large toroidal magnet will act like an oscillating current ring, whose induced magnetic flux can be measured by an external pickup loop inductively coupled to a SQUID magnetometer. Read More

One of the next frontiers in dark-matter direct-detection experiments is to explore the MeV to GeV mass regime. Such light dark matter does not carry enough kinetic energy to produce an observable nuclear recoil, but it can scatter off electrons, leading to a measurable signal. We introduce a semi-analytic approach to characterize the resulting electron-scattering events in atomic and semiconductor targets, improving on previous analytic proposals that underestimate the signal at high recoil energies. Read More

We present a new method to characterize unresolved point sources (PSs), generalizing traditional template fits to account for non-Poissonian photon statistics. We apply this method to Fermi Large Area Telescope gamma-ray data to characterize PS populations at high latitudes and in the Inner Galaxy. We find that PSs (resolved and unresolved) account for ~50% of the total extragalactic gamma-ray background in the energy range ~1. Read More

Data from the Fermi Large Area Telescope suggests that there is an extended excess of GeV gamma-ray photons in the Inner Galaxy. Identifying potential astrophysical sources that contribute to this excess is an important step in verifying whether the signal originates from annihilating dark matter. In this paper, we focus on the potential contribution of unresolved point sources, such as millisecond pulsars (MSPs). Read More

We propose the first truly directional antineutrino detector for antineutrinos above the hydrogen inverse beta decay (IBD) threshold, with potential applications including monitoring for nuclear nonproliferation, spatially mapping geo-neutrinos, characterizing the diffuse supernova neutrino background, and searching for new physics in the neutrino sector. The detector consists of adjacent and separated target and capture scintillator planes. IBD events take place in the target layers, which are thin enough to allow the neutrons to escape without scattering elastically. Read More

We extend previous work on the perturbative expansion of the Renyi entropy, $S_q$, around $q=1$ for a spherical entangling surface in a general CFT. Applied to conformal scalar fields in various spacetime dimensions, the results appear to conflict with the known conformal scalar Renyi entropies. On the other hand, the perturbative results agree with known Renyi entropies in a variety of other theories, including theories of free fermions and vector fields and theories with Einstein gravity duals. Read More

Neutrino capture on tritium has emerged as a promising method for detecting the cosmic neutrino background (CvB). We show that relic neutrinos are captured most readily when their spin vectors are anti-aligned with the polarization axis of the tritium nuclei and when they approach along the direction of polarization. As a result, CvB observatories may measure anisotropies in the cosmic neutrino velocity and spin distributions by polarizing the tritium targets. Read More

The cosmic neutrino background (CvB), produced about one second after the Big Bang, permeates the Universe today. New technological advancements make neutrino capture on beta-decaying nuclei (NCB) a clear path forward towards the detection of the CvB. We show that gravitational focusing by the Sun causes the expected neutrino capture rate to modulate annually. Read More

Entanglement entropy in even dimensional conformal field theories (CFTs) contains well-known universal terms arising from the conformal anomaly. Renyi entropies are natural generalizations of the entanglement entropy that are much less understood. Above two spacetime dimensions, the universal terms in the Renyi entropies are unknown for general entangling geometries. Read More

We show that Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) significantly constrains axion-like dark matter. The axion acts like an oscillating QCD $\theta$ angle that redshifts in the early universe, increasing the neutron-proton mass difference at neutron freeze-out. An axion-like particle that couples too strongly to QCD results in the underproduction of 4He during BBN and is thus excluded. Read More

Following arXiv:1308.2337, we carry out one loop tests of higher spin AdS$_{d+1}$/CFT$_d$ correspondences for $d\geq 2$. The Vasiliev theories in AdS$_{d+1}$, which contain each integer spin once, are related to the $U(N)$ singlet sector of the $d$-dimensional CFT of $N$ free complex scalar fields; the minimal theories containing each even spin once -- to the $O(N)$ singlet sector of the CFT of $N$ free real scalar fields. Read More

The scattering rate at dark-matter direct-detection experiments should modulate annually due to the Earth's orbit around the Sun. The rate is typically thought to be extremized around June 1, when the relative velocity of the Earth with respect to the dark-matter wind is maximal. We point out that gravitational focusing can alter this modulation phase. Read More

The count rate at dark-matter direct-detection experiments should modulate annually due to the motion of the Earth around the Sun. We show that higher-frequency modulations, including daily modulation, are also present and in some cases are nearly as strong as the annual modulation. These higher-order modes are particularly relevant if (i) the dark matter is light, O(10) GeV, (ii) the scattering is inelastic, or (iii) velocity substructure is present; for these cases, the higher-frequency modes are potentially observable at current and ton-scale detectors. Read More

We study deformations of three-dimensional large N CFTs by double-trace operators constructed from spin s single-trace operators of dimension \Delta. These theories possess UV fixed points, and we calculate the change of the 3-sphere free energy \delta F= F_{UV}- F_{IR}. To describe the UV fixed point using the dual AdS_4 space we modify the boundary conditions on the spin s field in the bulk; this approach produces \delta F in agreement with the field theory calculations. Read More

In {\cal N} = 2 superconformal three-dimensional field theory the R-symmetry is determined by locally maximizing the free energy F on the three-sphere. Using F-maximization, we study the {\cal N} = 2 supersymmetric U(N_c) gauge theory coupled to N_f pairs of fundamental and anti-fundamental superfields in the Veneziano large N_c limit, where x = N_f / N_c is kept fixed. This theory has a superconformal window 1 \leq x \leq \infty, while for x < 1 supersymmetry is broken. Read More

The renormalized entanglement entropy (REE) across a circle of radius R has been proposed as a c-function in Poincar\'e invariant (2+1)-dimensional field theory. A proof has been presented of its monotonic behavior as a function of R, based on the strong subadditivity of entanglement entropy. However, this proof does not directly establish stationarity of REE at conformal fixed points of the renormalization group. Read More

We calculate the shape dependence of entanglement entropy in (5+1)-dimensional conformal field theory in terms of the extrinsic curvature of the entangling surface, the opening angles of possible conical singularities, and the conformal anomaly coefficients, which are required to obey a single constraint. An important special case of this result is given by the interacting (2,0) theory describing a large number of coincident M5-branes. To derive the more general result we rely crucially on the holographic prescription for calculating entanglement entropy using Lovelock gravity. Read More

We use a mix of field theoretic and holographic techniques to elucidate various properties of quantum entanglement entropy. In (3+1)-dimensional conformal field theory we study the divergent terms in the entropy when the entangling surface has a conical or a wedge singularity. In (2+1)-dimensional field theory with a mass gap we calculate, for an arbitrary smooth entanglement contour, the expansion of the entropy in inverse odd powers of the mass. Read More

Three-dimensional conformal field theories (CFTs) of deconfined gauge fields coupled to gapless flavors of fermionic and bosonic matter describe quantum critical points of condensed matter systems in two spatial dimensions. An important characteristic of these CFTs is the finite part of the entanglement entropy across a circle. The negative of this quantity is equal to the finite part of the free energy of the Euclidean CFT on the three-sphere, and it has been proposed to satisfy the so called F-theorem, which states that it decreases under RG flow and is stationary at RG fixed points. Read More

Renyi entropies S_q are useful measures of quantum entanglement; they can be calculated from traces of the reduced density matrix raised to power q, with q>=0. For (d+1)-dimensional conformal field theories, the Renyi entropies across S^{d-1} may be extracted from the thermal partition functions of these theories on either (d+1)-dimensional de Sitter space or R x H^d, where H^d is the d-dimensional hyperbolic space. These thermal partition functions can in turn be expressed as path integrals on branched coverings of the (d+1)-dimensional sphere and S^1 x H^d, respectively. Read More

The conjectured F-theorem for three-dimensional field theories states that the finite part of the free energy on S^3 decreases along RG trajectories and is stationary at the fixed points. In previous work various successful tests of this proposal were carried out for theories with {\cal N}=2 supersymmetry. In this paper we perform more general tests that do not rely on supersymmetry. Read More

For 3-dimensional field theories with {\cal N}=2 supersymmetry the Euclidean path integrals on the three-sphere can be calculated using the method of localization; they reduce to certain matrix integrals that depend on the R-charges of the matter fields. We solve a number of such large N matrix models and calculate the free energy F as a function of the trial R-charges consistent with the marginality of the superpotential. In all our {\cal N}=2 superconformal examples, the local maximization of F yields answers that scale as N^{3/2} and agree with the dual M-theory backgrounds AdS_4 x Y, where Y are 7-dimensional Sasaki-Einstein spaces. Read More

It is known that an explosive instability can occur when nonlinear waves propagate in certain media that admit 3-wave mixing. The purpose of this paper is to show that explosive instabilities can occur even in media that admit no 3-wave mixing. Instead, the instability is caused by 4-wave mixing: four resonantly interacting wavetrains gain energy from a background, and all blow up in a finite time. Read More