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Illuminating Dark Matter and Primordial Black Holes with Interstellar Antiprotons


Interstellar antiproton fluxes can arise from dark matter annihilating or decaying into quarks or gluons that subsequently fragment into antiprotons. Evaporation of primordial black holes also can produce a significant antiproton cosmic-ray flux. Since the background of secondary antiprotons from spallation has an interstellar energy spectrum that peaks at $\sim 2\gev$ and falls rapidly for energies below this, low-energy measurements of cosmic antiprotons are useful in the search for exotic antiproton sources. However, measurement of the flux near the earth is challenged by significant uncertainties from the effects of the solar wind. We suggest evading this problem and more effectively probing dark-matter signals by placing an antiproton spectrometer aboard an interstellar probe currently under discussion. We address the experimental challenges of a light, low-power-consuming detector, and present an initial design of such an instrument. This experimental effort could significantly increase our ability to detect, and have confidence in, a signal of exotic, nonstandard antiproton sources. Furthermore, solar modulation effects in the heliosphere would be better quantified and understood by comparing results to inverse modulated data derived from existing balloon and space-based detectors near the earth.

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