Deep-underground search for the decay of 180m-Ta with an ultra-low-background HPGe detector

R. Cerroni, S. Dell'Oro, A. Formicola, S. Ghislandi, L. Ioannucci, M. Laubenstein, B. Lehnert, S. S. Nagorny, S. Nisi, L. Pagnanini
Nuclear Experiment, Nuclear Experiment (nucl-ex)
Eur. Phys. J. C 83, 925 (2023)
2023-05-25 16:00:00
$^{180m}$Ta is the longest-lived metastable state presently known. Its decay has not been observed yet. In this work, we report a new result on the decay of \mTa obtained with a $2015.12$-g tantalum sample measured for $527.7$ d with an ultra-low background HPGe detector in the STELLA laboratory of the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS), in Italy. Before the measurement, the sample has been stored deep-underground for ten years, resulting in subdominant background contributions from cosmogenically activated $^{182}$Ta. We observe no signal in the regions of interest and set half-life limits on the process for the two channels EC and $\beta^-$: $T_{1/2,~\mathrm{EC}} > 1.6 \times 10^{18}$ yr and $T_{1/2,~\beta^-} > 1.1\times 10^{18}$ yr ($90$\% C.\,I.), respectively. We also set the limit on the $\gamma$ de-excitation / IC channel: $T_{1/2,~\mathrm{IC}} > 4.1 \times 10^{15}$ yr ($90$\% C.\,I.). These are, as of now, the most stringent bounds on the decay of $^{180m}$Ta worldwide. Finally, we test the hypothetical scenarios of de-excitation of $^{180m}$Ta by cosmological Dark Matter and constrain new parameter space for strongly-interacting dark-matter particle with mass up to $10^5$ GeV.
PDF: Deep-underground search for the decay of 180m-Ta with an ultra-low-background HPGe detector.pdf
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