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Catà, Oscar; Ibarra, Alejandro; Ingenhütt, Sebastian (2016): Dark Matter Decays from Nonminimal Coupling to Gravity. In: Physical Review Letters, Vol. 117, No. 2, 21302
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We consider the standard model extended with a dark matter particle in curved spacetime, motivated by the fact that the only current evidence for dark matter is through its gravitational interactions, and we investigate the impact on the dark matter stability of terms in the Lagrangian linear in the dark matter field and proportional to the Ricci scalar. We show that this "gravity portal" induces decay even if the dark matter particle only has gravitational interactions, and that the decay branching ratios into standard model particles only depend on one free parameter: the dark matter mass. We study in detail the case of a singlet scalar as a dark matter candidate, which is assumed to be absolutely stable in flat spacetime due to a discrete Z(2) symmetry, but which may decay in curved spacetimes due to a Z(2)-breaking nonminimal coupling to gravity. We calculate the dark matter decay widths and we set conservative limits on the nonminimal coupling parameter from experiments. The limits are very stringent and suggest that there must exist an additional mechanism protecting the singlet scalar from decaying via this gravity portal.