Black hole superradiance is a powerful tool in the search for ultralight bosons. Constraints on the existence of such particles have been derived from the observation of highly spinning black holes, absence of continuous gravitational-wave signals, and of the associated stochastic background. However, these constraints are only strictly speaking valid in the limit where the boson’s interactions can be neglected. In this work we investigate the extent to which the superradiant growth of an ultra-light dark photon can be quenched via scattering processes with ambient electrons. For dark photon masses , and for reasonable values of the ambient electron number density, we find superradiance can be quenched prior to extracting a significant fraction of the black-hole spin. For sufficiently large and small electron number densities, the in-medium suppression of the kinetic mixing can be efficiently removed, and quenching occurs for mixings ; at low masses, however, in-medium effects strongly inhibit otherwise efficient scattering processes from dissipating energy. Intriguingly, this quenching leads to a time- and energy-oscillating electromagnetic signature, with luminosities potentially extending up to , suggesting that such events should be detectable with existing telescopes. As a by-product we also show that superradiance cannot be used to constrain a small mass for the Standard Model photon.
|Published - 15 Aug 2021