Search for domain wall dark matter with atomic clocks on board global positioning system satellites

Benjamin M. Roberts, Geoffrey Blewitt, Conner Dailey, Mac Murphy, Maxim Pospelov, Alex Rollings, Jeff Sherman, Wyatt Williams, Andrei Derevianko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Cosmological observations indicate that dark matter makes up 85% of all matter in the universe yet its microscopic composition remains a mystery. Dark matter could arise from ultralight quantum fields that form macroscopic objects. Here we use the global positioning system as a ~ 50,000 km aperture dark matter detector to search for such objects in the form of domain walls. Global positioning system navigation relies on precision timing signals furnished by atomic clocks. As the Earth moves through the galactic dark matter halo, interactions with domain walls could cause a sequence of atomic clock perturbations that propagate through the satellite constellation at galactic velocities ~ 300 km s-1. Mining 16 years of archival data, we find no evidence for domain walls at our current sensitivity level. This improves the limits on certain quadratic scalar couplings of domain wall dark matter to standard model particles by several orders of magnitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1195
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank A. Sushkov and Y. Stadnik for discussions, and J. Weinstein for his comments on the manuscript. We acknowledge the International GNSS Service for the GPS data acquisition. We used JPL’s GIPSY software for the orbit reference frame conversion. This work was supported in part by the US National Science Foundation grant PHY-1506424.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


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