Annihilation of dark matter can result in the production of stable Standard Model particles including electrons and positrons that, in the presence of magnetic fields, lose energy via synchrotron radiation, observable as radio emission. Galaxy clusters are excellent targets to search for or to constrain the rate of dark matter annihilation, as they are both massive and dark matter dominated. In this study, we place limits on dark matter annihilation in a sample of nearby clusters using upper limits on the diffuse radio emission, low levels of observed diffuse emission, or detections of radio mini-halos. We find that the strongest limits on the annihilation cross section are better than limits derived from the non-detection of clusters in the gamma-ray band by a factor of ∼3 or more when the same annihilation channel and substructure model, but different best-case clusters, are compared. The limits on the cross section depend on the assumed amount of substructure, varying by as much as two orders of magnitude for increasingly optimistic substructure models as compared to a smooth Navarro-Frenk-White profile. In our most optimistic case, using the results of the Phoenix Project, we find that the derived limits reach below the thermal relic cross section of 3 × 10-26 cm3 s -1 for dark matter masses as large as 400 GeV, for the annihilation channel. We discuss uncertainties due to the limited available data on the magnetic field structure of individual clusters. We also report the discovery of diffuse radio emission from the central 30-40 kpc regions of the groups M49 and NGC 4636.
- dark matter
- galaxies: clusters: individual (M49, NGC 4636)
- galaxies: clusters: intracluster medium
- radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
- radio continuum: general