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Refined predictions for cosmic rays and indirect dark matter searches

Abstract : A hundred years ago, pioneering observations of air ionization revealed that the Earth is showered with particles coming from the Galaxy and beyond. Because of their high energies, these particles coined cosmic-rays are still a crucial tool in the field of particle physics, complementary to man-made accelerators. From an astrophysical point of view, the origin of cosmic-rays and the mechanisms which accelerate them are still very poorly known. The present paradigm involves sporadic production associated with the expanding shock waves from dying stars (SNRs).Recent experiments (notably PAMELA and, more recently, AMS-02) are ushering us into a new era of measurements of cosmic-ray fluxes with greatly reduced statistical uncertainties. In this dissertation, we propose and investigate new theoretical refinements of our predictions to fully benefit from these advances.After a general introduction on cosmic-ray physics, we first focus on the so-called primary species which are directly produced by SNRs. In this context of precision measurements, the discreteness of the sources in space and time, together with a substantial ignorance of their precise epochs and locations (with the possible exception of the most recent and close ones) may lead to significant uncertainties in the predictions of the fluxes at the Earth. So far, the conventional approach just relied on average trends. Here, we elaborate a statistical theory in order to compute the probability for the actual flux to depart from its ensemble average. Using the generalized version of the central limit theorem, we demonstrate that the probability distribution function of the flux is intimately related to the source distribution and follows a stable law with a heavier tail than the Gaussian distribution. Our theoretical framework can not only be extended to other cosmic-ray observables, such as the lepton flux, but also can be enriched to include a more comprehensive description of the correlations between the sources. Moreover the method which we have developed may be applied to a variety of problems in physics/astrophysics involving heavy tail distributions.Secondly, we concentrate on secondary CRs, like the boron nuclei, which are thought to be produced only by the collisions of cosmic-rays on the interstellar medium. More precisely, the ratio of the boron to carbon fluxes is a traditional tool used to understand and gauge the propagation of cosmic-rays in the Galaxy. Hence a very precise measurement of this ratio should imply stringent constraints on the propagation scenario. However we show that its theoretical derivation strongly depends on where these secondary species are produced as well as on the chosen set of nuclear cross-sections. Hence we assess at the 20% level the theoretical uncertainties on the so far derived propagation parameters. As new data from AMS-02 were freshly released, we present the starting points of a comprehensive new analysis for which we use the semi-analytical code USINE.Finally these high precision measurements offer new opportunities for a number of astroparticle problems, such as indirect dark matter searches which is the main thrust of the third part of the thesis. Antimatter cosmic rays are thought to be secondary species and their relatively low fluxes make them a channel of choice to look for rare processes such as dark matter annihilation. Nonetheless, the predictions of the expected backgrounds rely on a precise modeling of cosmic-ray propagation and interactions in the Galaxy. We treat them under commonly used simplified assumptions and discuss two studies where we re-evaluate the anti-proton and the positron fluxes in the light of the new AMS-02 data. Then we discuss the implications for dark matter and astrophysical explanations.
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Yoann Genolini. Refined predictions for cosmic rays and indirect dark matter searches. Astrophysics [astro-ph]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAY049⟩. ⟨tel-01736216⟩

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