Axion-Assisted Production of Sterile Neutrino Dark Matter

Sterile neutrinos can be generated in the early universe through oscillations with active neutrinos and represent a popular and well-studied candidate for our universe's dark matter. Stringent constraints from X-ray and gamma-ray line searches, however, have excluded the simplest of such models. In this letter, we propose a novel alternative to the standard scenario in which the mixing angle between the sterile and active neutrinos is a dynamical quantity, induced through interactions with a light axion-like field. As the energy density of the axion-like particles is diluted by Hubble expansion, the degree of mixing is reduced at late times, suppressing the decay rate and easily alleviating any tension with X-ray or gamma-ray constraints. We present a simple model which illustrates the phenomenology of this scenario, and also describe a framework in which the QCD axion is responsible for the production of sterile neutrinos in the early universe.

Comments: 5 pages, 3 figures

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Affiliations: 1NIKHEF, Amsterdam & Leiden U., 2NIKHEF, Amsterdam, 3NIKHEF, Amsterdam, 4Liverpool U., Dept. Math.

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