Searches for Dark Matter at the LHC in forward proton mode
June 10, 2020
We analyze in detail the LHC prospects at the center-of-mass energy of 14 TeV for charged electroweakino searches, decaying to leptons, in compressed supersymmetry scenarios, via exclusive photon-initiated pair production. This provides a potentially increased sensitivity in comparison to inclusive channels, where the background is often overwhelming. We pay particular attention to the challenges that such searches would face in the hostile high pile-up environment of the LHC, giving close consideration to the backgrounds that will be present. The signal we focus on is the exclusive production of same-flavour muon and electron pairs, with missing energy in the final state, and with two outgoing intact protons registered by the dedicated forward proton detectors installed in association with ATLAS and CMS. We present results for slepton masses of 120-300 GeV and slepton-neutralino mass splitting of 10-20 GeV, and find that the relevant backgrounds can be controlled to the level of the expected signal yields. The most significant such backgrounds are due to semi-exclusive lepton pair production at lower masses, with a proton produced in the initial proton dissociation system registering in the forward detectors, and from the coincidence of forward protons produced in pile-up events with an inclusive central event that mimics the signal. We also outline a range of potential methods to further suppress these backgrounds as well as to enlarge the signal yields.
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