An intense 120 GeV proton beam incident on an extremely long iron target generates enormous numbers of light-mass particles that also decay within that target. If one of these particles decays to a final state with a hidden gauge boson, or if such a particle is produced as a result of the initial collision, then that weakly interacting hidden-sector particle may traverse the remainder of the target and be detected downstream through its possible decay to an e+ e, μ+ μ, or π+ π final state. These conditions can be realized through an extension of the SeaQuest experiment at Fermilab, and in this initial investigation we consider how it can serve as an ultrasensitive probe of hidden vector gauge forces, both Abelian and non-Abelian. A light, weakly coupled hidden sector may well explain the dark matter established through astrophysical observations, and the proposed search can provide tangible evidence for its existence—or, alternatively, constrain a “sea” of possibilities.

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Published in Physical Review D, v. 93, issue 11, 115015, p. 1-14.

© 2016 American Physical Society

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This work was supported by Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Physics, Contracts No. DE-FG02-96ER40989 (S. G.) and No. DE-AC02-06CH11357 (R. H.), and by National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant No. NSF PHY 1306126 (A.T).