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  • richardmitnick 10:55 am on July 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Axions, Daniel Bowring at FNAL, , , , , ,   

    From Fermilab: “Daniel Bowring receives $2.5 million from DOE to search for axions with quantum sensors” 

    FNAL II photo

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    FNAL Art Image by Angela Gonzales

    From Fermilab , an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    July 19, 2018
    Jordan Rice

    1
    Daniel Bowring examines a superconducting qubit mounted in a copper microwave cavity. Photo: Reidar Hahn

    Dark matter makes up nearly 80 percent of all matter in the universe, yet its nature has eluded scientists.

    Dark matter cosmic web and the large-scale structure it forms The Millenium Simulation, V. Springel et al


    Caterpillar Project A Milky-Way-size dark-matter halo and its subhalos circled, an enormous suite of simulations . Griffen et al. 2016

    Scientists theorize that it could take the form of a subatomic particle, and one possible candidate comes in the form of a small, theoretical particle called the axion. If it exists, the axion will interact incredibly weakly with matter, so detecting one requires an incredibly sensitive detector.

    Fermilab scientist Daniel Bowring is planning to build just such an instrument. The Department of Energy has selected Bowring for a 2018 Early Career Research Award to build a detector that would ferret out the hypothesized particle. He will receive $2.5 million over five years to build and operate his experiment. The award funds equipment, engineers, technicians and a postdoctoral researcher.

    “We are very motivated to find the axion because it would solve several interesting problems for us in the particle physics community,” Bowring said.

    Not only would the axion’s discovery explain, at least in part, the nature of dark matter, it could also solve the strong CP problem, a long-standing thorn in the side of theoretical physics models.

    The strong CP problem is an inconsistency in particle physics. Particles behave differently from their mirror-reversed, antimatter counterparts — at least, they do under the influence of the electromagnetic force and the weak nuclear force (which governs nuclear decay).

    But under the influence of the strong force (which holds matter together), particles and their mirror-image antiparticles behave similarly. Or, in physics speak, they’re CP-symmetric under the strong force. (CP stands for charge-parity. It’s the property that’s flipped when you take a mirror image of a particle’s antimatter partner.) Why is the strong force the exception?

    One potential answer lies in the existence of the axion. In the math of strong interactions, the addition of the axion enables theoretical models to reflect the reality of strong-force CP symmetry.

    Bowring is following the axion math where it leads — to the construction of a device that can pick up the signal of the fundamental particle, whose mass is predicted to be vanishingly small, between 1 billion and 1 trillion times smaller than an electron.

    One way to look for the axion is to look for light: In the presence of a strong electromagnetic field — Bowring’s experiment will use about 14 Tesla, or roughly 10 times stronger than an MRI magnet — an axion should convert into a single particle of light, called a photon, which is more easily observed.

    “Physicists have gotten pretty good at detecting photons over the years,” Bowring said.

    When an axion enters the detector filled with the electromagnetic field, the particle will spontaneously convert into a photon with a specific frequency. The frequency corresponds to the axion’s mass, so scientists can measure the axion mass indirectly, thanks to the detection of particles of light.

    Much like someone tuning a sensitive AM radio, researchers will scan slowly through the relevant range of photon frequencies until they pick up a signal, which would point to the presence of an axion.

    It’s a subtle business, one that requires being able to detect single photons. While photon detection is an old hat for physicists, discerning a lone photon amid the experimental noise of a particle detector is a job for new technology. Bowring’s experiment will use supersensitive, superconducting quantum bits, or qubits, to pluck the solo photon signal from the noise and thus accurately count the number of detected photons.

    Bowring’s experiment will be an opportunity to bridge the gap between particle physics and the science behind quantum computing.

    Quantum computing – IBM

    “Daniel’s proposed experiment will demonstrate how qubits, the essential elements of quantum computing, can be used to detect a range of axion masses,” said Fermilab scientist Keith Gollwitzer. “Quantum computing may be the next large step in computing power and particle physics experiments.”

    In that respect, the application of technologies in their infancy to century-old problems is a reflection of the larger scientific field.

    “Fermilab’s mission is doing particle physics, and qubits are just a way for us to meet the requirements of that mission,” Bowring says. “It is a way for us to build new experiments that address the problems of particle physics at the forefront of where the field is.”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 1:52 pm on May 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Axion Cold Dark Matter experiment, Axions, , , , , , Planckian interacting dark matter, Superfluid models of dark matter,   

    From Physics- “Meetings: WIMP Alternatives Come Out of the Shadows” 

    Physics LogoAbout Physics

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    From Physics

    May 14, 2018

    At an annual physics meeting in the Alps, WIMPs appeared to lose their foothold as the favored dark matter candidate, making room for a slew of new ideas.

    The Rencontres de Moriond (Moriond Conferences) have been a fixture of European high-energy physics for over half a century. These meetings—typically held at an Alpine ski resort—have been the site of many big announcements, such as the first public talk on the top quark discovery in 1995 and important Higgs updates in 2013. One day, perhaps, a dark matter detection will headline at Moriond. For now, physicists wait. But they’ve gotten a bit anxious, as their shoo-in candidate, the WIMP, has yet to make an appearance—despite several ongoing searches.

    DEAP Dark Matter detector, The DEAP-3600, suspended in the SNOLAB deep in Sudbury’s Creighton Mine

    Lux Dark Matter 2 at SURF, Lead, SD, USA

    DARWIN Dark Matter experiment. A design study for a next-generation, multi-ton dark matter detector in Europe at the University of Zurich

    At this year’s Moriond, held this past March in La Thuile, Italy, some of the limelight passed to other dark matter candidates, such as axions, black holes, superfluids, and more.

    1
    T. Tait/University of California, Irvine

    WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles, have been a popular topic over the years at Moriond, according to meeting organizer Jacques Dumarchez from the Laboratory of Nuclear Physics and High Energy (LPNHE) in France. The reason for this enthusiasm is that WIMPs fall out of theory without much tweaking. Extensions of the standard model, like supersymmetry, predict a host of particles with weak interactions and a mass in the 1 to 100GeV∕c2 range. If WIMPs like this were created in the big bang, then, according to simple thermodynamic arguments, their density would match the expectations for dark matter based on astronomical observations. This seemingly effortless matching has been called the WIMP miracle.

    But these days, the miracle has less of a halo around it. At this year’s Moriond, updates from direct and indirect searches for WIMPs sounded almost apologetic. Alessandro Manfredini of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel told his listeners to “keep calm… and fingers crossed,” as he gave the latest news from Xenon 1T, a one-ton dark matter detector at Italy’s Gran Sasso laboratory. He showed that the experiment has now reached record-breaking sensitivity, so that if a 50GeV∕c2 WIMP exists, the next data release could reveal ten events. But, like other WIMP searches, the current results rule the particles out—by putting tighter limits on their properties—rather than rule them in. The hunt will continue for years to come, but the WIMP paradigm has “started to look less as the obvious solution to the dark matter problem,” Dumarchez said.

    XENON1T at Gran Sasso


    Gran Sasso LABORATORI NAZIONALI del GRAN SASSO, located in the Abruzzo region of central Italy

    When did WIMP confidence start to deflate? Tim Tait from the University of California, Irvine, described the change as gradual. “It is hard to say exactly when it began, but I think it was becoming noticeable around 2014 or so,” Tait said. That’s when the null results from dark matter searches began closing the favored parameter space for the WIMP model. “Of course, there is still a good opportunity for those searches to discover WIMPs,” he said.

    At Moriond, Tait gave an overview of dark matter candidates, in which he discussed WIMPs but devoted much of his time to the dazzling variety of other dark matter theories. Chief among these is the axion.

    CERN CAST Axion Solar Telescope

    U Washington ADMX Axion Dark Matter Experiment

    AXION DME experiment at U Washington

    Like the WIMP, it is well-motivated from particle physics theory, as it may explain why strong interactions do not violate CP symmetry, while weak interactions do. The axion is also the target of several dedicated searches, such as ADMX. Other familiar “dark horse” candidates discussed at Moriond were neutrinos and black holes—with the latter seeing a boost in popularity after recent gravitational-wave observations.

    But at the conference, the doors seemed open to all comers, with several new dark matter ideas taking the stage. One of the talks was by Justin Khoury from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who advocates a superfluid model of dark matter. The main assumption here is that dark matter has strong self-interactions that cause it to cool and condense in the centers of galaxies. The resulting superfluid could help explain certain anomalies in observed galactic velocity profiles.

    Martin Sloth from the University of Southern Denmark takes a very different approach. Rather than having strong interactions, his so-called Planckian interacting dark matter has zero interactions beyond gravity, but it makes up for its lack of interactions with an enormous mass (around 1028eV∕c2). At the opposite end of the mass spectrum is fuzzy dark matter, weighing in at 10−22eV∕c2. These ethereal particles could explain an apparent lack of small galaxies. But they could also run into constraints from observed absorption in the intergalactic medium, explained Eric Armengaud from France’s Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in Saclay.

    Although WIMPs continue to be the odds-on favorite, the field has certainly expanded—with light and heavy masses, weak and strong interactions, and seemingly everything in between. Sloth compared the current situation without a WIMP detection to a Wimbledon tournament without Roger Federer: “Everybody is signing up, thinking that they now have a chance.”

    But can theorists make compelling arguments for these alternatives, as they did for WIMPs? David Kaplan from Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, believes that theoretical backing will not be a problem. In fact, he commented that the community has been too fixated on WIMPs (and the miracle) for the last 30 years. He warned his compatriots to not make the same mistake again: “I don’t want the next 30 years to be just axions.”

    See the full article here .

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    Physicists are drowning in a flood of research papers in their own fields and coping with an even larger deluge in other areas of physics. How can an active researcher stay informed about the most important developments in physics? Physics highlights a selection of papers from the Physical Review journals. In consultation with expert scientists, the editors choose these papers for their importance and/or intrinsic interest. To highlight these papers, Physics features three kinds of articles: Viewpoints are commentaries written by active researchers, who are asked to explain the results to physicists in other subfields. Focus stories are written by professional science writers in a journalistic style and are intended to be accessible to students and non-experts. Synopses are brief editor-written summaries. Physics provides a much-needed guide to the best in physics, and we welcome your comments (physics@aps.org).

     
    • mpc755 11:18 am on May 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      There is evidence of dark matter every time a double-slit experiment is performed, as it is the medium that waves.

      Like

      • richardmitnick 11:25 am on May 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for reading and commenting. It is much appreciated.

        Like

        • mpc755 12:08 pm on May 15, 2018 Permalink

          Dark matter is a supersolid that fills ’empty’ space and is displaced by visible matter. What is referred to geometrically as curved spacetime physically exists in nature as the state of displacement of the dark matter. The state of displacement of the dark matter is gravity.

          Dark matter ripples when galaxy clusters collide and waves in a double-slit experiment, relating general relativity and quantum mechanics.

          Thanks for the response.

          Like

  • richardmitnick 4:40 pm on May 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Axions, , , LUX/Dark matter experiment at SURF, , ,   

    From Symmetry: “The origins of dark matter” 

    Symmetry Mag
    From Symmetry

    11/08/16 [Just brought forward in social media]
    Matthew R. Francis

    1
    Artwork by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Corinne Mucha

    [Because this article is well over a year old, I have updated it with Dark Matter experiments and also included a section on the origins of Dark Matter research by Vera Rubin and Fritz Zicky.]

    Dark Matter Research

    Caterpillar Project A Milky-Way-size dark-matter halo and its subhalos circled, an enormous suite of simulations . Griffen et al. 2016

    Milky Way Dark Matter Halo Credit ESO L. Calçada


    Dark matter halo. Image credit: Virgo consortium / A. Amblard / ESA

    Universe map Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey

    Scientists studying the cosmic microwave background hope to learn about more than just how the universe grew—it could also offer insight into dark matter, dark energy and the mass of the neutrino.

    Dark matter cosmic web and the large-scale structure it forms The Millenium Simulation, V. Springel et al

    Dark Matter Particle Explorer China

    DEAP Dark Matter detector, The DEAP-3600, suspended in the SNOLAB deep in Sudbury’s Creighton Mine

    LUX/Dark matter experiment at SURF

    Edelweiss Dark Matter Experiment, located at the Modane Underground Laboratory in France

    Transitions are everywhere we look. Water freezes, melts, or boils; chemical bonds break and form to make new substances out of different arrangements of atoms. The universe itself went through major transitions in early times. New particles were created and destroyed continually until things cooled enough to let them survive. Those particles include ones we know about, such as the Higgs boson or the top quark. But they could also include dark matter, invisible particles which we presently know only because of their gravitational effects. In cosmic terms, dark matter particles could be a “thermal relic,” forged in the hot early universe and then left behind during the transitions to more moderate later eras. One of these transitions, known as “freeze-out,” changed the nature of the whole universe.

    The hot cosmic freezer

    On average, today’s universe is a pretty boring place. If you pick a random spot in the cosmos, it’s far more likely to be in intergalactic space than, say, the heart of a star or even inside an alien solar system. That spot is probably cold, dark and quiet. The same wasn’t true for a random spot shortly after the Big Bang. “The universe was so hot that particles were being produced from photons smashing into other photons, of photons hitting electrons, and electrons hitting positrons and producing these very heavy particles,” says Matthew Buckley of Rutgers University. The entire cosmos was a particle-smashing party, but parties aren’t meant to last. This one lasted only a trillionth of a second. After that came the cosmic freeze-out. During the freeze-out, the universe expanded and cooled enough for particles to collide far less frequently and catastrophically. “One of these massive particles floating through the universe is finding fewer and fewer antimatter versions of itself to collide with and annihilate,” Buckley says. “Eventually the universe would get large enough and cold enough that the rate of production and the rate of annihilation basically goes to zero, and you just a relic abundance, these few particles that are floating out there lonely in space.” Many physicists think dark matter is a thermal relic, created in huge numbers in before the cosmos was a half-second old and lingering today because it barely interacts with any other particle.

    A WIMPy miracle

    One reason to think of dark matter as a thermal relic is an interesting coincidence known as the “WIMP miracle.” WIMP stands for “weakly-interacting massive particle,” and WIMPs are the most widely accepted candidates for dark matter. Theory says WIMPs are likely heavier than protons and interact via the weak force, or at least interactions related to the weak force. The last bit is important, because freeze-out for a specific particle depends on what forces affect it and the mass of the particle. Thermal relics made by the weak force were born early in the universe’s history because particles need to be jammed in tight for the weak force, which only works across short distances, to be a factor.

    “If dark matter is a thermal relic, you can calculate how big the interaction [between dark matter particles] needs to be,” Buckley says. Both the primordial light known as the cosmic microwave background [CMB] and the behavior of galaxies tell us that most dark matter must be slow-moving (“cold” in the language of physics).

    COBE CMB


    NASA/COBE 1989 to 1993.


    Cosmic Microwave Background NASA/WMAP


    NASA/WMAP 2001 to 2010


    CMB per ESA/Planck


    ESA/Planck 2009 to 2013

    That means interactions between dark matter particles must be low in strength. “Through what is perhaps a very deep fact about the universe,” Buckley says, “that interaction turns out to be the strength of what we know as the weak nuclear force.” That’s the WIMP miracle: The numbers are perfect to make just the right amount of WIMPy matter. The big catch, though, is that experiments haven’t found any WIMPs yet.

    It’s too soon to say WIMPs don’t exist, but it does rule out some of the simpler theoretical predictions about them.

    Ultimately, the WIMP miracle could just be a coincidence. Instead of the weak force, dark matter could involve a new force of nature that doesn’t affect ordinary matter strongly enough to detect. In that scenario, says Jessie Shelton of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “you could have thermal freeze-out, but the freeze-out is of dark matter to some other dark field instead of [something in] the Standard Model.” In that scenario, dark matter would still be a thermal relic but not a WIMP. For Shelton, Buckley, and many other physicists, the dark matter search is still full of possibilities. “We have really compelling reasons to look for thermal WIMPs,” Shelton says. “It’s worth remembering that this is only one tiny corner of a much broader space of possibilities.”

    Well, what about AXIONS?

    CERN CAST Axion Solar Telescope


    Inside the ADMX experiment hall at the University of Washington Credit Mark Stone U. of Washington

    Origins of Dark Matter Research

    Vera Rubin measuring spectra (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)

    Vera Florence Cooper Rubin was an American astronomer who pioneered work on galaxy rotation rates. She uncovered the discrepancy between the predicted angular motion of galaxies and the observed motion, by studying galactic rotation curves. This phenomenon became known as the galaxy rotation problem, and was evidence of the existence of dark matter. Although initially met with skepticism, Rubin’s results were confirmed over subsequent decades. Her legacy was described by The New York Times as “ushering in a Copernican-scale change” in cosmological theory.

    Fritz Zwicky, the Father of Dark Matter research.No image credit after long search

    Fritz Zwicky, a Swiss astronomer. He worked most of his life at the California Institute of Technology in the United States of America, where he made many important contributions in theoretical and observational astronomy. In 1933, Zwicky was the first to use the virial theorem to infer the existence of unseen dark matter, describing it as “dunkle Materie

    There was no Nobel award for either Rubin or Zwicky.

    See the full article here .

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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


     
  • richardmitnick 12:43 pm on April 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Axions, , , ,   

    From U Washington via UC Berkeley: “Start of most sensitive search yet for dark matter axion” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    UC Berkeley

    UC Berkeley

    April 9, 2018
    Robert Sanders
    rlsanders@berkeley.edu

    1
    The SQUID-based amplifier, which is about a millimeter square, is supercooled to be sensitive to faint signals from axions, should they convert into a microwave photon in the ADMX detector. Sean O’Kelley image

    Thanks to low-noise superconducting quantum amplifiers invented at UC Berkeley, physicists are now embarking on the most sensitive search yet for axions, one of today’s top candidates for dark matter.

    The Axion Dark Matter Experiment (ADMX) reported results today showing that it is the world’s first and only experiment to have achieved the necessary sensitivity to “hear” the telltale signs of dark matter axions.

    The milestone is the result of more than 30 years of research and development, with the latest piece of the puzzle coming in the form of a quantum device that allows ADMX to listen for axions more closely than any experiment ever built.

    John Clarke, a professor of physics in the graduate school at UC Berkeley and a pioneer in the development of sensitive magnetic detectors called SQUIDs (superconducting quantum interference devices), developed the amplifier two decades ago. ADMX scientists, with Clarke’s input, have now incorporated it into the ADMX detector at the University of Washington, Seattle, and are ready to roll.

    “ADMX is a complicated and quite expensive piece of machinery, so it took a while to build a suitable detector so that they could put the SQUID amplifier on it and demonstrate that it worked as advertised. Which it did,” Clarke said.

    The ADMX team published their results online today in the journal Physical Review Letters.

    “This result signals the start of the true hunt for axions,” said Andrew Sonnenschein at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, the operations manager for ADMX. “If dark matter axions exist within the frequency band we will be probing for the next few years, then it’s only a matter of time before we find them.”

    Dark matter: MACHOs, WIMPs or axions?

    U Washington ADMX cutaway rendering of the ADMX detector

    Dark matter is the missing 84 percent of matter in the universe, and physicists have looked extensively for many possible candidates, most prominently massive compact halo objects, or MACHOs, and weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. Despite decades of searching for MACHOs and WIMPs, scientists have struck out; they can see the effects of dark matter in the universe, in how galaxies and stars within galaxies move, but they can’t see dark matter itself.

    Axions are becoming the favored alternative, in part because their existence would also solve problems with the standard model of particle physics today, including the fact that the neutron should have an electric dipole moment, but doesn’t.

    Like other dark-matter candidates, axions are everywhere but difficult to detect. Because they interact with ordinary matter so rarely, they stream through space, even passing through the Earth, without “touching” ordinary matter. ADMX employs a strong magnetic field and a tuned, reflective box to encourage axions to convert to microwave-frequency photons, and uses the quantum amplifier to “listen” for them. All this is done at the lowest possible temperature to reduce background noise.

    Clarke learned of a key stumbling block for ADMX in 1994, when meeting with physicist Leslie Rosenberg, now a professor at the University of Washington and chief scientist for ADMX, and Karl van Bibber, now chair of UC Berkeley’s Department of Nuclear Engineering. Because the axion signal would be very faint, any detector would have to be very cold and “quiet.” Noise from heat, or thermal radiation, is easy to eliminate by cooling the detector down to 0.1 Kelvin, or roughly 460 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. But eliminating the noise from standard semiconductor transistor amplifiers proved difficult.

    They asked Clarke, would SQUID amplifiers solve this problem?

    Supercold amplifiers lower noise to absolute limit

    Though he had built SQUID amplifiers that worked up to 100 MHz frequencies, none worked at the gigahertz frequencies needed, so he set to work to build one. By 1998, he and his collaborators had solved the problem, thanks in large part to initial funding from the National Science Foundation and subsequent funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) through Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The amplifiers on ADMX were funded by DOE through the University of Washington.


    Listening for dark matter: How ADMX employs cold cavities and SQUID amplifiers to find the elusive axion. Courtesy of University of Washington, Seattle.

    Clarke and his group showed that, cooled to temperatures of tens of milliKelvin above absolute zero, the Microstrip SQUID Amplifier (MSA) could achieve a noise that was quantum limited, that is, limited only by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.

    “You can’t do better than that,” Clarke said.

    This much quieter technology, combined with the refrigeration unit, reduced the noise by a factor of about 30 at 600 MHz so that a signal from the axion, if there is one, should come through loud and clear. The MSA currently in operation on ADMX was fabricated by Gene Hilton at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, and tested, calibrated and packaged by Sean O’Kelley, a graduate student in Clarke’s research group at UC Berkeley.

    The ADMX team plans to slowly tune through millions of frequencies in hopes of hearing a clear tone from photons produced by axion decay.

    “This result plants a flag,” said Rosenberg. “It tells the world that we have the sensitivity, and have a very good shot at finding the axion. No new technology is needed. We don’t need a miracle anymore, we just need the time.”

    Clarke noted too that the high-frequency, low-noise quantum SQUID amplifiers he invented for ADMX have since been employed in another hot area of physics, to read out the superconducting quantum bits, or qubits, for quantum computers of the future.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 3:41 pm on January 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Axions, , , , , ,   

    From CfA: “A New Bound on Axions” 

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


    Center For Astrophysics

    January 19, 2018

    1
    A composite image of M87 in the X-ray from Chandra (blue) and in radio emission from the Very Large Array (red-orange). Astronomers used the X-ray emission from M87 to constrain the properties of axions, putative particles suggested as dark matter candidates. X-ray NASA/CXC/KIPAC/N. Werner, E. Million et al.; Radio NRAO/AUI/NSF/F. Owen.

    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    An axion is a hypothetical elementary particle whose existence was postulated in order to explain why certain subatomic reactions appear to violate basic symmetry constraints, in particular symmetry in time. The 1980 Nobel Prize in Physics went for the discovery of time-asymmetric reactions. Meanwhile, during the following decades, astronomers studying the motions of galaxies and the character of the cosmic microwave background [CMB] radiation came to realize that most of the matter in the universe was not visible.

    CMB per ESA/Planck

    Cosmic Background Radiation per Planck

    ESA/Planck

    It was dubbed dark matter, and today’s best measurements find that about 84% of matter in the cosmos is dark. This component is dark not only because it does not emit light — it is not composed of atoms or their usual constituents, like electrons and protons, and its nature is mysterious. Axions have been suggested as one possible solution. Particle physicists, however, have so far not been able to detect directly axions, leaving their existence in doubt and reinvigorating the puzzles they were supposed to resolve.

    CfA astronomer Paul Nulsen and his colleagues used a novel method to investigate the nature of axions. Quantum mechanics constrain axions, if they exist, to interact with light in the presence of a magnetic field. As they propagate along a strong field, axions and photons should transmute from one to the other other in an oscillatory manner. Because the strength of any possible effect depends in part on the energy of the photons, the astronomers used the Chandra X-ray Observatory to monitor bright X-ray emission from galaxies. They observed X-rays from the nucleus of the galaxy Messier 87, which is known to have strong magnetic fields, and which (at a distance of only fifty-three million light-years) is close enough to enable precise measurements of variations in the X-ray flux. Moreover, Me3ssier 87 lies in a cluster of galaxies, the Virgo cluster, which should insure the magnetic fields extend over very large scales and also facilitate the interpretation. Not least, Messier 87 has been carefully studied for decades and its properties are relatively well known.

    The search did not find the signature of axions. It does, however, set an important new limit on the strength of the coupling between axions and photons, and is able to rule out a substantial fraction of the possible future experiments that might be undertaken to detect axions. The scientists note that their research highlights the power of X-ray astronomy to probe some basic issues in particle physics, and point to complementary research activities that can be undertaken on other bright X-ray emitting galaxies.

    Science paper:
    A New Bound on Axion-Like Particles, Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:20 pm on October 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Axions, , , , , , , , , ,   

    From Quanta: Women in STEM: “Mining Black Hole Collisions for New Physics” Asimina Arvanitaki 

    Quanta Magazine
    Quanta Magazine

    July 21, 2016
    Joshua Sokol

    The physicist Asimina Arvanitaki is thinking up ways to search gravitational wave data for evidence of dark matter particles orbiting black holes.

    1
    Asimina Arvanitaki during a July visit to the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.
    Samuel Rubio for Quanta Magazine

    When physicists announced in February that they had detected gravitational waves firsthand, the foundations of physics scarcely rattled.


    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation


    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger-Zib

    ESA/eLISA the future of gravitational wave research

    1
    Skymap showing how adding Virgo to LIGO helps in reducing the size of the source-likely region in the sky. (Credit: Giuseppe Greco (Virgo Urbino group)

    The signal exactly matched the expectations physicists had arrived at after a century of tinkering with Einstein’s theory of general relativity. “There is a question: Can you do fundamental physics with it? Can you do things beyond the standard model with it?” said Savas Dimopoulos, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University. “And most people think the answer to that is no.”

    Asimina Arvanitaki is not one of those people. A theoretical physicist at Ontario’s Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics,


    Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada

    Arvanitaki has been dreaming up ways to use black holes to explore nature’s fundamental particles and forces since 2010, when she published a paper with Dimopoulos, her mentor from graduate school, and others. Together, they sketched out a “string axiverse,” a pantheon of as yet undiscovered, weakly interacting particles. Axions such as these have long been a favored candidate to explain dark matter and other mysteries.

    In the intervening years, Arvanitaki and her colleagues have developed the idea through successive papers. But February’s announcement marked a turning point, where it all started to seem possible to test these ideas. Studying gravitational waves from the newfound population of merging black holes would allow physicists to search for those axions, since the axions would bind to black holes in what Arvanitaki describes as a “black hole atom.”

    “When it came up, we were like, ‘Oh my god, we’re going to do it now, we’re going to look for this,’” she said. “It’s a whole different ball game if you actually have data.”

    That’s Arvanitaki’s knack: matching what she calls “well-motivated,” field-hopping theoretical ideas with the precise experiment that could probe them. “By thinking away from what people are used to thinking about, you see that there is low-hanging fruit that lie in the interfaces,” she said. At the end of April, she was named the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s Aristarchus Chair at the Perimeter Institute, the first woman to hold a research chair there.

    It’s a long way to come for someone raised in the small Grecian village of Koklas, where the graduating class at her high school — at which both of her parents taught — consisted of nine students. Quanta Magazine spoke with Arvanitaki about her plan to use black holes as particle detectors. An edited and condensed version of those discussions follows.

    QUANTA MAGZINE: When did you start to think that black holes might be good places to look for axions?

    ASIMINA ARVANITAKI: When we were writing the axiverse paper, Nemanja Kaloper, a physicist who is very good in general relativity, came and told us, “Hey, did you know there is this effect in general relativity called superradiance?” And we’re like, “No, this cannot be, I don’t think this happens. This cannot happen for a realistic system. You must be wrong.” And then he eventually convinced us that this could be possible, and then we spent like a year figuring out the dynamics.
    What is superradiance, and how does it work?

    An astrophysical black hole can rotate. There is a region around it called the “ergo region” where even light has to rotate. Imagine I take a piece of matter and throw it in a trajectory that goes through the ergo region. Now imagine you have some explosives in the matter, and it breaks apart into pieces. Part of it falls into the black hole and part escapes into infinity. The piece that is coming out has more total energy than the piece that went in the black hole.

    You can perform the same experiment by scattering radiation from a black hole. Take an electromagnetic wave pulse, scatter it from the black hole, and you see that the pulse you got back has a higher amplitude.

    So you can send a pulse of light near a black hole in such a way that it would take some energy and angular momentum from the black hole’s spin?

    This is old news, by the way, this is very old news. In ’72 Press and Teukolsky wrote a Nature paper that suggested the following cute thing. Let’s imagine you performed the same experiment as the light, but now imagine that you have the black hole surrounded by a giant mirror. What will happen in that case is the light will bounce on the mirror many times, the amplitude [of the light] grows exponentially, and the mirror eventually explodes due to radiation pressure. They called it the black hole bomb.

    The property that allows light to do this is that light is made of photons, and photons are bosons — particles that can sit in the same space at the same time with the same wave function. Now imagine that you have another boson that has a mass. It can [orbit] the black hole. The particle’s mass acts like a mirror, because it confines the particle in the vicinity of the black hole.

    In this way, axions might get stuck around a black hole?

    This process requires that the size of the particle is comparable to the black hole size. Turns out that [axion] mass can be anywhere from Hubble scale — with a quantum wavelength as big as the universe — or you could have a particle that’s tiny in size.

    So if they exist, axions can bind to black holes with a similar size and mass. What’s next?

    What happens is the number of particles in this bound orbit starts growing exponentially. At the same time the black hole spins down. If you solve for the wave functions of the bound orbits, what you find is that they look like hydrogen wave functions. Instead of electromagnetism binding your atom, what’s binding it is gravity. There are three quantum numbers you can describe, just the same. You can use the exact terminology that you can use in the hydrogen atom.

    How could we check to see if any of the black holes LIGO finds have axion clouds orbiting around black hole nuclei?

    This is a process that extracts energy and angular momentum from the black hole. If you were to measure spin versus mass of black holes, you should see that in a certain mass range for black holes you see no quickly rotating black holes.

    This is where Advanced LIGO comes in. You saw the event they saw. [Their measurements] allowed them to measure the masses of the merging objects, the mass of the final object, the spin of the final object, and to have some information about the spins of the initial objects.

    If I were to take the spins of the black holes before they merged, they could have been affected by superradiance. Now imagine a graph of black hole spin versus mass. Advanced LIGO could maybe get, if the things that we hear are correct, a thousand events per year. Now you have a thousand data points on this plot. So you may trace out the region that is affected by this particle just by those measurements.

    That would be supercool.

    That’s of course indirect. So the other cool thing is that it turns out there are signatures that have to do with the cloud of particles themselves. And essentially what they do is turn the black hole into a gravitational wave laser.

    Awesome. OK, what does that mean?

    2
    Samuel Rubio for Quanta Magazine

    Yeah, what that means is important. Just like you have transitions of electrons in an excited atom, you can have transitions of particles in the gravitational wave atom. The rate of emission of gravitational waves from these transitions is enhanced by the 1080 particles that you have. It would look like a very monochromatic line. It wouldn’t look like a transient. Imagine something now that emits a signal at a very fixed frequency.

    Where could LIGO expect to see signals like this?

    In Advanced LIGO, you actually see the birth of a black hole. You know when and where a black hole was born with a certain mass and a certain spin. So if you know the particle masses that you’re looking for, you can predict when the black hole will start growing the [axion] cloud around it. It could be that you see a merger in that day, and one or 10 years down the line, they go back to the same position and they see this laser turning on, they see this monochromatic line coming out from the cloud.

    You can also do a blind search. Because you have black holes that are roaming the universe by themselves, and they could still have some leftover cloud around them, you can do a blind search for monochromatic gravitational waves.

    Were you surprised to find out that axions and black holes could combine to produce such a dramatic effect?

    Oh my god yes. What are you talking about? We had panic attacks. You know how many panic attacks we had saying that this effect, no, this cannot be true, this is too good to be true? So yes, it was a surprise.

    The experiments you suggest draw from a lot of different theoretical ideas — like how we could look for high-frequency gravitational waves with tabletop sensors, or test whether dark matter oscillates using atomic clocks. When you’re thinking about making risky bets on physics beyond the standard model, what sorts of theories seem worth the effort?

    What is well motivated? Things that are not: “What if you had this?” People imagine: “What if dark matter was this thing? What if dark matter was the other thing?” For example, supersymmetry makes predictions about what types of dark matter should be there. String theory makes predictions about what types of particles you should have. There is always an underlying reason why these particles are there; it’s not just the endless theoretical possibilities that we have.

    And axions fit that definition?

    This is a particle that was proposed 30 years ago to explain the smallness of the observed electric dipole moment of the neutron. There are several experiments around the world looking for it already, at different wavelengths. So this particle, we’ve been looking for it for 30 years. This can be the dark matter. That particle solves an outstanding problem of the standard model, so that makes it a good particle to look for.

    Now, whether or not the particle is there I cannot answer for nature. Nature will have to answer.

    See the full article here .

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    Formerly known as Simons Science News, Quanta Magazine is an editorially independent online publication launched by the Simons Foundation to enhance public understanding of science. Why Quanta? Albert Einstein called photons “quanta of light.” Our goal is to “illuminate science.” At Quanta Magazine, scientific accuracy is every bit as important as telling a good story. All of our articles are meticulously researched, reported, edited, copy-edited and fact-checked.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:16 pm on July 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Axions, , HAYSTAC - Haloscope at Yale Sensitive To Axion Cold Dark Matter, , ,   

    From Yale: “Needle in a HAYSTAC” 

    Yale University bloc

    Yale University

    July 5, 2017
    Elizabeth Ruddy

    1
    No image caption or credit.

    Imagine searching for a needle in a haystack. The needle weighs about 100 billion times less than an electron and has no charge. It acts like a wave rather than a particle, and the haystack is the size of our universe. Needles like this may exist in the tens of trillions in every cubic centimeter of space—the trick is proving that they’re there.

    That is the mission of the HAYSTAC Project at Yale, which stands for the Haloscope at Yale Sensitive To Axion Cold Dark Matter. HAYSTAC is a collaboration between Yale University, University of California, Berkeley and University of Colorado, Boulder. The project is based here in the Wright Laboratory, lead by Professor Steve Lamoreaux and a team of Yale scientists and graduate students. The scientists began their project about five years ago and released their first results this past February in The Physics Review Letters. The first author was Yale graduate student Ben Brubaker.

    “The goals of the experiment are to detect dark matter, or failing that, to at least rule out some possible models for what dark matter is,” explained Brubaker. “In simplest terms, dark matter started out as an astrophysics question: that is, there is more mass in the universe than can be accounted for by the mass we can see [through] all the wavelengths we can detect: visible light, radio waves, ultraviolet.” Dark matter is the “invisible” matter.

    The HAYSTAC project is dedicated specifically to the detection of the axion, a subatomic particle that was proposed in 1983 as a likely candidate for dark matter. Like the aforementioned needle, axions are theorized to have almost miniscule mass, no charge, and no spin. Based on the gravitational movement of stars and galaxies, we know that 80 percent of the matter in our universe is dark matter, but axions interact with other matter so weakly they become almost impossible to detect. Because they are so light, they have very little energy and behave more like waves than particles. As a result, the scientists must employ an unusual identification strategy to find them.

    2
    The HAYSTAC axion detector probes the universe for axions, a potential candidate for dark matter. No image credit.

    The HAYSTAC detection device essentially produces a magnetic field that converts the axions to photons. The frequency of oscillation of the photons is determined by the mass of the axion. Therefore, when the detector is tuned in to one specific frequency at a time, it can amplify these oscillations to make them detectable.

    “Our detector is in essence a tunable radio receiver, and we painstakingly tune the receiving frequency looking for an increase in noise. It is like driving through a desert looking for a station on the car radio: you tune slowly in hopes of finding something,” said Professor Lamoreaux, the head of the project.

    In the February report, the team demonstrated its recent breakthroughs in design: they had achieved sufficient sensitivity to test out much higher frequencies in the potential mass range than ever before. By incorporating technology from other fields such as quantum electronics, Lamoreaux and his colleagues have made the detector colder and quieter than any of its contemporaries, eliminating as much of the background noise as possible. According to Brubaker, the device is kept at about 0.1 degree Celsius above absolute zero, the unattainable temperature at which atoms physically stop moving. Freezing temperatures are critical for sensitivity because a major source of noise is thermal radiation: photons being shed by matter and interfering with the detection of axions.

    According to Professor Lamoreaux, their detector is currently the most sensitive radio receiver ever built. “Imagine a match lit on the surface of the Moon…the rate of energy entering the pupil of your eye, when the match is viewed from the Earth, is about the level of sensitivity we achieve.”

    The size of the detector scales inversely with the mass range being tested, so the Wright Lab instrument will only be able to search a small portion of the wide range of possible dark matter masses. However, the team has proven they have a design with the sensitivity capability necessary to perform these sweeps. Their design is a pioneering model for the future.

    See the full article here .

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    Yale University Campus

    Yale University comprises three major academic components: Yale College (the undergraduate program), the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools. In addition, Yale encompasses a wide array of centers and programs, libraries, museums, and administrative support offices. Approximately 11,250 students attend Yale.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:00 pm on June 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A different kind of dark matter could help to resolve an old celestial conundrum, Axions, , , , , , Dark matter superfluid, Dark matter vortices, , Kent Ford, , ,   

    From Quanta: “Dark Matter Recipe Calls for One Part Superfluid” 

    Quanta Magazine
    Quanta Magazine

    June 13, 2017
    Jennifer Ouellette

    A different kind of dark matter could help to resolve an old celestial conundrum.

    1
    Markos Kay for Quanta Magazine

    For years, dark matter has been behaving badly. The term was first invoked nearly 80 years ago by the astronomer Fritz Zwicky, who realized that some unseen gravitational force was needed to stop individual galaxies from escaping giant galaxy clusters. Later, Vera Rubin and Kent Ford used unseen dark matter to explain why galaxies themselves don’t fly apart.

    Yet even though we use the term “dark matter” to describe these two situations, it’s not clear that the same kind of stuff is at work. The simplest and most popular model holds that dark matter is made of weakly interacting particles that move about slowly under the force of gravity. This so-called “cold” dark matter accurately describes large-scale structures like galaxy clusters. However, it doesn’t do a great job at predicting the rotation curves of individual galaxies. Dark matter seems to act differently at this scale.

    In the latest effort to resolve this conundrum, two physicists have proposed that dark matter is capable of changing phases at different size scales. Justin Khoury, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, and his former postdoc Lasha Berezhiani, who is now at Princeton University, say that in the cold, dense environment of the galactic halo, dark matter condenses into a superfluid — an exotic quantum state of matter that has zero viscosity. If dark matter forms a superfluid at the galactic scale, it could give rise to a new force that would account for the observations that don’t fit the cold dark matter model. Yet at the scale of galaxy clusters, the special conditions required for a superfluid state to form don’t exist; here, dark matter behaves like conventional cold dark matter.

    “It’s a neat idea,” said Tim Tait, a particle physicist at the University of California, Irvine. “You get to have two different kinds of dark matter described by one thing.” And that neat idea may soon be testable. Although other physicists have toyed with similar ideas, Khoury and Berezhiani are nearing the point where they can extract testable predictions that would allow astronomers to explore whether our galaxy is swimming in a superfluid sea.

    Impossible Superfluids

    Here on Earth, superfluids aren’t exactly commonplace. But physicists have been cooking them up in their labs since 1938. Cool down particles to sufficiently low temperatures and their quantum nature will start to emerge. Their matter waves will spread out and overlap with one other, eventually coordinating themselves to behave as if they were one big “superatom.” They will become coherent, much like the light particles in a laser all have the same energy and vibrate as one. These days even undergraduates create so-called Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) in the lab, many of which can be classified as superfluids.

    Superfluids don’t exist in the everyday world — it’s too warm for the necessary quantum effects to hold sway. Because of that, “probably ten years ago, people would have balked at this idea and just said ‘this is impossible,’” said Tait. But recently, more physicists have warmed to the possibility of superfluid phases forming naturally in the extreme conditions of space. Superfluids may exist inside neutron stars, and some researchers have speculated that space-time itself may be a superfluid. So why shouldn’t dark matter have a superfluid phase, too?

    To make a superfluid out of a collection of particles, you need to do two things: Pack the particles together at very high densities and cool them down to extremely low temperatures. In the lab, physicists (or undergraduates) confine the particles in an electromagnetic trap, then zap them with lasers to remove the kinetic energy and lower the temperature to just above absolute zero.

    2
    Lucy Reading-Ikkanda/Quanta Magazine

    The dark matter particles that would make Khoury and Berezhiani’s idea work are emphatically not WIMP-like. WIMPs should be pretty massive as fundamental particles go — about as massive as 100 protons, give or take. For Khoury’s scenario to work, the dark matter particle would have to be a billion times less massive. Consequently, there should be billions of times as many of them zipping through the universe — enough to account for the observed effects of dark matter and to achieve the dense packing required for a superfluid to form. In addition, ordinary WIMPs don’t interact with one another. Dark matter superfluid particles would require strongly interacting particles.

    The closest candidate is the axion, a hypothetical ultralight particle with a mass that could be 10,000 trillion trillion times as small as the mass of the electron. According to Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a theoretical physicist at the University of Washington, axions could theoretically condense into something like a Bose-Einstein condensate.

    But the standard axion doesn’t quite fit Khoury and Berezhiani’s needs. In their model, particles would need to experience a strong, repulsive interaction with one another. Typical axion models have interactions that are both weak and attractive. That said, “I think everyone thinks that dark matter probably does interact with itself at some level,” said Tait. It’s just a matter of determining whether that interaction is weak or strong.

    Cosmic Superfluid Searches

    The next step for Khoury and Berezhiani is to figure out how to test their model — to find a telltale signature that could distinguish this superfluid concept from ordinary cold dark matter. One possibility: dark matter vortices. In the lab, rotating superfluids give rise to swirling vortices that keep going without ever losing energy. Superfluid dark matter halos in a galaxy should rotate sufficiently fast to also produce arrays of vortices. If the vortices were massive enough, it would be possible to detect them directly.

    Inside galaxies, the role of the electromagnetic trap would be played by the galaxy’s gravitational pull, which could squeeze dark matter together enough to satisfy the density requirement. The temperature requirement is easier: Space, after all, is naturally cold.

    Outside of the “halos” found in the immediate vicinity of galaxies, the pull of gravity is weaker, and dark matter wouldn’t be packed together tightly enough to go into its superfluid state. It would act as dark matter ordinarily does, explaining what astronomers see at larger scales.

    But what’s so special about having dark matter be a superfluid? How can this special state change the way that dark matter appears to behave? A number of researchers over the years have played with similar ideas. But Khoury’s approach is unique because it shows how the superfluid could give rise to an extra force.

    In physics, if you disturb a field, you’ll often create a wave. Shake some electrons — for instance, in an antenna — and you’ll disturb an electric field and get radio waves. Wiggle the gravitational field with two colliding black holes and you’ll create gravitational waves. Likewise, if you poke a superfluid, you’ll produce phonons — sound waves in the superfluid itself. These phonons give rise to an extra force in addition to gravity, one that’s analogous to the electrostatic force between charged particles. “It’s nice because you have an additional force on top of gravity, but it really is intrinsically linked to dark matter,” said Khoury. “It’s a property of the dark matter medium that gives rise to this force.” The extra force would be enough to explain the puzzling behavior of dark matter inside galactic halos.

    A Different Dark Matter Particle

    Dark matter hunters have been at work for a long time. Their efforts have focused on so-called weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. WIMPs have been popular because not only would the particles account for the majority of astrophysical observations, they pop out naturally from hypothesized extensions of the Standard Model of particle physics.

    Yet no one has ever seen a WIMP, and those hypothesized extensions of the Standard Model haven’t shown up in experiments either, much to physicists’ disappointment.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    With each new null result, the prospects dim even more, and physicists are increasingly considering other dark matter candidates. “At what point do we decide that we’ve been barking up the wrong tree?” said Stacy McGaugh, an astronomer at Case Western Reserve University.

    Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the case: Khoury’s most recent computer simulations suggest that vortices in the dark matter superfluid would be “pretty flimsy,” he said, and unlikely to offer researchers clear-cut evidence that they exist. He speculates it might be possible to exploit the phenomenon of gravitational lensing to see if there are any scattering effects, similar to how a crystal will scatter X-ray light that passes through it.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    Astronomers could also search for indirect evidence that dark matter behaves like a superfluid. Here, they’d look to galactic mergers.

    The rate that galaxies collide with one another is influenced by something called dynamical friction. Imagine a massive body passing through a sea of particles. Many of the small particles will get pulled along by the massive body. And since the total momentum of the system can’t change, the massive body must slow down a bit to compensate.

    That’s what happens when two galaxies start to merge. If they get sufficiently close, their dark matter halos will start to pass through each other, and the rearrangement of the independently moving particles will give rise to dynamical friction, pulling the halos even closer. The effect helps galaxies to merge, and works to increase the rate of galactic mergers across the universe.

    But if the dark matter halo is in a superfluid phase, the particles move in sync. There would be no friction pulling the galaxies together, so it would be more difficult for them to merge. This should leave behind a telltale pattern: rippling interference patterns in how matter is distributed in the galaxies.

    Perfectly Reasonable Miracles

    While McGaugh is mostly positive about the notion of superfluid dark matter, he confesses to a niggling worry that in trying so hard to combine the best of both worlds, physicists might be creating what he terms a “Tycho Brahe solution.” The 16th-century Danish astronomer invented a hybrid cosmology in which the Earth was at the center of the universe but all the other planets orbited the sun. It attempted to split the difference between the ancient Ptolemaic system and the Copernican cosmology that would eventually replace it. “I worry a little that these kinds of efforts are in that vein, that maybe we’re missing something more fundamental,” said McGaugh. “But I still think we have to explore these ideas.”

    Tait admires this new superfluid model intellectually, but he would like to see the theory fleshed out more at the microscopic level, to a point where “we can really calculate everything and show why it all works out the way it’s supposed to. At some level, what we’re doing now is invoking a few miracles” in order to get everything to fit into place, he said. “Maybe they’re perfectly reasonable miracles, but I’m not fully convinced yet.”

    One potential sticking point is that Khoury and Berezhiani’s concept requires a very specific kind of particle that acts like a superfluid in just the right regime, because the kind of extra force produced in their model depends upon the specific properties of the superfluid. They are on the hunt for an existing superfluid — one created in the lab — with those desired properties. “If you could find such a system in nature, it would be amazing,” said Khoury, since this would essentially provide a useful analog for further exploration. “You could in principle simulate the properties of galaxies using cold atoms in the lab to mimic how superfluid dark matter behaves.”

    While researchers have been playing with superfluids for many decades, particle physicists are only just beginning to appreciate the usefulness of some of the ideas coming from subjects like condensed matter physics. Combining tools from those disciplines and applying it to gravitational physics might just resolve the longstanding dispute on dark matter — and who knows what other breakthroughs might await?

    “Do I need superfluid models? Physics isn’t really about what I need,” said Prescod-Weinstein. “It’s about what the universe may be doing. It may be naturally forming Bose-Einstein condensates, just like masers naturally form in the Orion nebula. Do I need lasers in space? No, but they’re pretty cool.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Formerly known as Simons Science News, Quanta Magazine is an editorially independent online publication launched by the Simons Foundation to enhance public understanding of science. Why Quanta? Albert Einstein called photons “quanta of light.” Our goal is to “illuminate science.” At Quanta Magazine, scientific accuracy is every bit as important as telling a good story. All of our articles are meticulously researched, reported, edited, copy-edited and fact-checked.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:44 pm on May 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Axions, , , ,   

    From CERN Courier: “CAST experiment constrains solar axions” 

    CERN Courier
    May 19, 2017

    CERN CAST Axion Solar Telescope

    2
    Two-photon coupling constraints

    In a paper published in Nature Physics, the CERN Axion Solar Telescope (CAST) has reported important new exclusion limits on coupling of axions to photons. Axions are hypothetical particles that interact very weakly with ordinary matter and therefore are candidates to explain dark matter. They were postulated decades ago to solve the “strong CP” problem in the Standard Model (SM), which concerns an unexpected time-reversal symmetry of the nuclear forces. Axion-like particles, unrelated to the strong-CP problem but still viable dark-matter candidates, are also predicted by several theories of physics beyond the SM, notably string theory.

    A variety of Earth- and space-based observatories are searching possible locations where axions could be produced, ranging from the inner Earth to the galactic centre and right back to the Big Bang. CAST looks for solar axions using a “helioscope” constructed from a test magnet originally built for the Large Hadron Collider. The 10 m-long superconducting magnet acts like a viewing tube and is pointed directly at the Sun: solar axions entering the tube would be converted by its strong magnetic field into X-ray photons, which would be detected at either end of the magnet. Starting in 2003, the CAST helioscope, mounted on a movable platform and aligned with the Sun with a precision of about 1/100th of a degree, has tracked the movement of the Sun for an hour and a half at dawn and an hour and a half at dusk, over several months each year.

    In the latest work, based on data recorded between 2012 and 2015, CAST finds no evidence for solar axions. This has allowed the collaboration to set the best limits to date on the strength of the coupling between axions and photons for all possible axion masses to which CAST is sensitive. The limits concern a part of the axion parameter space that is still favoured by current theoretical predictions and is very difficult to explore experimentally, allowing CAST to encroach on more restrictive constraints set by astrophysical observations. “Even though we have not been able to observe the ubiquitous axion yet, CAST has surpassed even the sensitivity originally expected, thanks to CERN’s support and unrelenting work by CASTers,” says CAST spokesperson Konstantin Zioutas. “CAST’s results are still a point of reference in our field.”

    The experience gained by CAST over the past 15 years will help physicists to define the detection technologies suitable for a proposed, much larger, next-generation axion helioscope called IAXO. Since 2015, CAST has also broadened its research at the low-energy frontier to include searches for dark-matter axions and candidates for dark energy, such as solar chameleons.

    See the full article here .

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    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

    LHC

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

     
  • richardmitnick 8:13 am on May 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Axions, , , , Helioscope, , ,   

    From CERN: “CERN CASTs new limits on dark matter” 

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead

    CERN

    1 May 2017
    Stefania Pandolfi

    1
    CAST, CERN’s axion solar telescope, moves on its rail to follow the Sun (Image: Max Brice/CERN)

    In a paper published today in Nature Physics, the CAST experiment at CERN presented new results on the properties of axions – hypothetical particles that would interact very weakly with ordinary matter and therefore could explain the mysterious dark matter that appears to make up most of the matter in the universe.

    Axions were postulated by theorists decades ago, initially to solve an important issue in the Standard Model of particle physics related to the differences between matter and antimatter. The particle was named after a brand of washing detergent, since its existence would allow the theory to be “cleaned up”.

    A variety of Earth- and space-based observatories are searching possible locations where axions could be produced, ranging from the inner Earth to the galactic centre and right back to the Big Bang.

    The CERN Axion Solar Telescope (CAST) experiment is looking for axions from the sun using a special telescope called a helioscope constructed from a test magnet originally built for the Large Hadron Collider. The 10-metre-long superconducting magnet acts like a viewing tube and is pointed directly at the sun: any solar axions entering the tube would be converted by its strong magnetic field into X-ray photons, which would be detected at either end of the magnet by specialised detectors. Since 2003, the CAST helioscope, mounted on a movable platform, has tracked the movement of the sun for an hour and a half at dawn and an hour and a half at dusk, over several months each year. The detector is aligned with the sun with a precision of about one hundredth of a degree.

    In the paper published today, based on data recorded between 2012 and 2015, CAST finds no evidence for solar axions. This has allowed the collaboration to set the best limits to date on the strength of the coupling between axions and photons for all possible axion masses to which CAST is sensitive. “The limits concern a part of the axion parameter space that is still favoured by current theoretical predictions and is very difficult to explore experimentally,” explains the deputy spokesperson for CAST, Igor Garcia Irastorza. “For the first time, we have been able to set limits that are similar to the more restrictive constraints set by astrophysical observations,” he says.

    Since 2015, CAST has broadened its research at the low-energy frontier to include searches for other weakly-interacting particles from the dark energy sector, such as “solar chameleons”. The experience gained by CAST over the past 15 years will also help physicists define the detection technologies suitable for a proposed, much larger, next-generation axion helioscope called IAXO.

    “Even though we have not been able to observe the ubiquitous axion yet, CAST has surpassed even the sensitivity originally expected, thanks to CERN’s support and unrelenting work by CASTers,” says CAST spokesperson Konstantin Zioutas. “CAST’s results are still a point of reference in our field.”

    See the full article here.

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