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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Carlos Frenk

Bose, S., Frenk, C. S., Hou, J., Lacey, C. G. & Lovell, M. R. (2016). Reionisation in sterile neutrino cosmologies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 463(4): 3848-3859.

Author(s) from Durham


We investigate the process of reionisation in a model in which the dark matter is a warm elementary particle such as a sterile neutrino. We focus on models that are consistent with the dark matter decay interpretation of the recently detected line at 3.5 keV in the X-ray spectra of galaxies and clusters. In warm dark matter models the primordial spectrum of density perturbations has a cut-off on the scale of dwarf galaxies. Structure formation therefore begins later than in the standard cold dark matter (CDM) model and very few objects form below the cut-off mass scale. To calculate the number of ionising photons, we use the Durham semi-analytic model of galaxy formation, GALFORM. We find that even the most extreme 7 keV sterile neutrino we consider is able to reionise the Universe early enough to be compatible with the bounds on the epoch of reionisation from Planck. This, perhaps surprising, result arises from the rapid build-up of high redshift galaxies in the sterile neutrino models which is also reflected in a faster evolution of their far-UV luminosity function between 10 > z > 7 than in CDM. The dominant sources of ionising photons are systematically more massive in the sterile neutrino models than in CDM. As a consistency check on the models, we calculate the present-day luminosity function of satellites of Milky Way-like galaxies. When the satellites recently discovered in the DES survey are taken into account, strong constraints are placed on viable sterile neutrino models.