- Statistics for dark matter subhalo searches in gamma rays from a kinematically constrained population model: Fermi-LAT-like telescopes doi link

Author(s): Facchinetti G.(Corresp.), Lavalle J.(Corresp.), Stref M.

(Article) Published: Physical Review D, vol. 106 p.083023 (2022)

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.106.083023

Cold dark matter subhalos are expected to populate galaxies in numbers. If dark matter self-annihilates, these objects turn into prime targets for indirect searches, in particular with gamma-ray telescopes. Incidentally, the Fermi-LAT catalog already contains many unidentified sources that might be associated with subhalos. In this paper, we infer the statistics of those subhalos which could be identified as gamma-ray point-like sources from their predicted distribution properties. We use a semi-analytical model for the Galactic subhalo population, which, in contrast to cosmological simulations, can be made fully consistent with current kinematic constraints in the Milky Way and has no resolution limit. The model incorporates tidal stripping, predicted from a realistic distribution of baryons in the Milky Way. The same baryonic distribution contributes a diffuse gamma-ray foreground, which adds up to that, often neglected, induced by the smooth dark matter and the unresolved subhalos. This idealized configuration, as viewed by an idealized telescope \`a la Fermi-LAT, implies a correlation between point-like subhalo signals and diffuse background. Based on this modeling, we compute the full statistics semi-analytically, and accurately determine the distribution properties of the most luminous subhalos in the sky (relative to background). We find a number of visible subhalos of order ${\cal O}(0-1)$ for optimistic model parameters and a WIMP mass of 100~GeV, maximized for a cored host halo. This barely provides support to the current interpretation of several Fermi unidentified sources as subhalos. We also find that it is more likely to detect the smooth Galactic halo itself before subhalos, should dark matter in the GeV-TeV mass range self-annihilate through $s$-wave processes.