Tagged: CAST-CERN Axion Solar Telescope Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

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

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

    Physics LogoAbout Physics

    Physics Logo 2

    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.

    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 .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    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.


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

        Thanks for reading and commenting. It is much appreciated.


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

          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.


  • richardmitnick 8:57 am on October 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CAST-CERN Axion Solar Telescope, , DAMA LIBRA Dark Matter Experiment, , , , , NIST PROSPECT detector, , , ,   

    From COSMOS: “Closing in on dark matter” 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    COSMOS Magazine

    18 October 2017
    Cathal O’Connell

    Dark matter can’t be detected but it glues galaxies together. It outweighs ordinary matter by five to one. Maltaguy1/Getty Images

    One Saturday I hired a metal detector and drove four hours to the historic gold-rush town of Bright in Victoria, Australia, where my wedding ring lies lost, somewhere on the bed of the Ovens River. I spent the evening wading through the icy waters in gumboots, uncovering such treasures as a bottle cap, a fisher’s lead weight and a bracelet caked in rust. I did not uncover the ring. But that doesn’t mean the ring is not there.

    Like me, physicists around the world are in the midst of an important search that has so far proven fruitless. Their quarry is nothing less than most of the matter in the universe, so-called “dark matter”.

    So far their most sensitive detectors have found – to be pithy – nada. Despite the lack of results, scientists aren’t giving up. “The frequency with which articles show up in the popular press saying ‘maybe dark matter isn’t real’ massively exceeds the frequency with which physicists or astronomers find any reason to re-examine that question,” says Katie Mack, a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Melbourne.

    In many respects, the quest for dark matter has only just begun. We can expect quite a few more null results before the real treasure turns up. So here is where we stand, and what we can expect from the next few years.

    Imagine a toddler sitting on one end of a seesaw and launching her father, at the other end, high into the air. It’s a weird and unsettling image, yet we regularly observe this kind of ‘impossible’ behaviour in the universe at large. Like the little girl on the seesaw, galaxies behave as if they have four or five times the mass we can see.

    Our first inkling of this discrepancy came in the 1930s, when the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky noticed odd movements among the Coma cluster of galaxies.

    Fritz Zwicky: The Father of Dark Matter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV0c1EFIKy4

    Zwicky’s anomaly was largely ignored until the 1970s, when astrophysicist Vera Rubin, based at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, noticed that the way galaxies spin did not tally with the laws of physics.

    Astronomer Vera Rubin in 1974, with her “measuring engine” used to examine photographic plates. Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Institution of Washington

    The meticulous observations by Rubin (who passed away in December 2016) convinced most of the astronomical community something was amiss. There were two possible answers to the problem: either galaxies were a lot heavier than they appeared, or our theory of gravity was kaput when it came to galaxy-scale movements.

    From the outset, astronomers preferred the first explanation. At first they thought the missing matter was probably nothing too weird – just regular astronomical objects (like planets, black holes and stars) too dim for us to see. But as we surveyed the sky with ever bigger telescopes, these so-called ‘massive compact halo objects’ (or MACHOs) never turned up in the numbers needed to explain all the extra mass.

    Other astrophysicists, such as the Mordehai Milgrom at Israel’s Weizmann Institute, explored models where gravity behaved differently at cosmic scales. [See https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/from-nautilus-the-physicist-who-denies-dark-matter/%5D

    Mordehai Milgrom. Cosmos on Nautilus

    They were not successful.

    Slowly astronomers realised they had something radically different on their hands – a new kind of stuff they called ‘dark matter’, which must outweigh the universe’s regular matter by about five to one. “Certainly, when all the evidence is taken together,” Mack says, “there’s no competing idea right now that comes anywhere close to explaining it as well.”

    We know four main facts about dark matter. First, it has gravity. Second, it doesn’t emit, absorb or reflect light. Third, it moves slowly. Fourth, it doesn’t seem to interact with anything, even itself.

    Like detectives in a TV murder mystery, physicists have compiled a list of suspects. Topping the list are three hypothetical particles already wanted on other charges: axions, sterile neutrinos and WIMPs. Besides nailing dark matter, each would help explain a grand mystery of their own.

    The axion is a particle proposed by Roberto Peccei and Helen Quinn back in 1977 to explain a quirk of the strong force (namely, why it can’t distinguish left from right, the way the weak force does). Thirty years on, axions are still our best explanation for that puzzle.

    Axions could have any mass, but if – and it is a big ‘if’ – they have a mass about 100 billion times lighter than an electron, theorists have calculated they would have been created in the Big Bang in such vast numbers that they could account for the universe’s dark matter. Like detectives with a dragnet, physicists are searching through different possible masses in an attempt to close in from both ends and corner the axion.

    The Axion Dark Matter eXperiment (ADMX), based at the University of Washington, is dragging the lightest end of the range.

    U Washington ADMX

    U Washington ADMX Axion Dark Matter Experiment

    Since 2010 the project has been trying to catch axions by turning them into photons using strong magnetic fields. So far ADMX has ruled out the featherweight mass range between 150 to 270 billion times lighter than the electron.

    The CERN Axion Solar Telescope (CAST) is dragging the heavyweight end of the range looking for axions that are a few tens of millions to about a million times lighter than the electron.

    CERN CAST Axion Solar Telescope

    The theorised source of these hefty axions is the Sun, where they might be created by X-rays in the presence of strong electric fields. In an example of recycling at its big-science best, CAST was assembled from a piece of the Large Hadron Collider -– a giant test magnet. It aims to detect solar axions by turning them back into X-rays. It has been running since 2003. The search goes on.

    Hypothetical particles known as axions could explain dark matter. Physicists at CERN have taken a giant magnet from the Large Hadron Collider and turned it into an axion detector, the CERN Axion Solar Telescope. Howard Cunningham/Getty Images

    Sterile neutrinos are the hypothetical heavier, lazier brothers of neutrinos – the ghostly, fast-moving particles created in nuclear reactions and in the centre of the Sun. They are called ‘sterile’ or ‘inactive’ because they only interact via gravity.

    Besides being a dark-matter candidate, sterile neutrinos would plug a number of holes in the Standard Model,

    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.

    which, like a subatomic version of the periodic table, has had great success in predicting the properties of the fundamental building blocks of the universe. For instance, sterile neutrinos could explain why neutrinos are so light, and why every neutrino we’ve ever seen has a ‘left-handed’ spin; sterile neutrinos would be the missing ‘right-handed’ partners.

    Physicists are trying to detect sterile neutrinos in different ways, including searching deep space for the X-rays emitted when they decay. NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope has picked up an excess of X-rays from the Perseus cluster of galaxies, which is so far unexplained.

    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    Perseus cluster. NASA

    Meanwhile, regular neutrino detectors based at nuclear reactors, such as Daya Bay in China, have noticed anomalies that might be explained by sterile neutrinos.

    Daya Bay, approximately 52 kilometers northeast of Hong Kong and 45 kilometers east of Shenzhen, China

    “Like Elvis, people see hints of the sterile neutrino everywhere,” quipped Francis Halzen in August 2016, when he and his colleagues at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory announced the disappointing results of their own search.

    U Wisconsin ICECUBE neutrino detector at the South Pole

    Their detector, buried up to 2.5 km deep in ice near the South Pole, found no evidence of the elusive sterile neutrino – a result that seems to rule out the Daya Bay reactor sightings. For a conclusive answer, we’ll need to wait for the next neutrino searches, such as the Precision Reactor Antineutrino Oscillation and Spectrum Measurement (PROSPECT) under construction at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Maryland.

    The PROSPECT detector will consist of an 11 x 14 array of long skinny cells filled with liquid scintillator, which is designed to sense antineutrinos emanating from the reactor core. If a sterile neutrino flavor exists, then PROSPECT will see waves of antineutrinos that appear and disappear with a period determined by their energy. Composition not drawn to scale. NIST.

    The third and most popular suspect is WIMPs – weakly interacting massive particles. The name covers a broad range of hypothetical particles that would interact via the weak force. They pop naturally out of the ideas of supersymmetry, an extension proposed to tidy up the loose ends of the Standard Model.

    Physicists calculate that the simplest possible WIMP, with a mass of about 100 billion electron volts, would have been created in the Big Bang at just the right numbers to explain dark matter: the so-called ‘WIMP miracle’.

    WIMP detectors are typically deep underground, watching for a telltale flash given out when a particle of dark matter bumps into an atomic nucleus.

    The most sensitive WIMP experiment yet is LUX, a bathtub-sized vat holding 370 kg of liquid xenon at the Sanford Underground Research Facility [SURF] in South Dakota. In 2016, the LUX team announced it had discovered no dark matter signals during its first 20-month-long search. Undeterred, the LUX team plan to upgrade to a 7,000-kg vat, LUX-ZEPLIN, by 2020.

    LBNL Lux Zeplin project at SURF

    The most intriguing dark matter result so far comes from the DAMA/LIBRA experiment in Italy. Using a detector made of highly purified sodium-iodide crystals, 1.5 km beneath Italy’s Gran Sasso mountain, scientists believe they have seen evidence of dark matter every year for the past 14 years (see Cosmos 65, p60). Their evidence comes in an annual rise and fall in background detections. Such a pattern might reflect the Earth’s relative speed through the dark-matter cloud that surrounds the Milky Way; while our planet moves around the Sun at 30 km/s, the Solar System as a whole is travelling at 230 km/s around the centre of the Milky Way.

    DAMA LIBRA Dark Matter Experiment, 1.5 km beneath Italy’s Gran Sasso mountain

    Gran Sasso LABORATORI NAZIONALI del GRAN SASSO, located in L’Aquila, Italy

    For half of the year the Earth’s orbital speed would add to the speed of the Solar System, increasing the rate of dark-matter interactions. For the other half, the speeds would subtract and the rate of interactions decrease. The problem is that lots of other things change with the seasons too, such as the thickness of the atmosphere. To rule out terrestrial effects, astronomers are setting up two identical detectors, called SABRE, in opposite hemispheres – so that one is collecting data in winter and the other in summer.

    One detector will be based at Gran Sasso, the other in Australia, in an abandoned gold mine near Stawell, Victoria. Each detector will be made of 50 kg of sodium iodide, and have noise levels 10 times lower than DAMA/LIBRA. Construction on each is under way, and could be finished this year.

    Rather than detecting dark matter, others are trying to make it. The closest we can get to the conditions of the Big Bang – where dark matter was presumably created – is in the collision chambers of the Large Hadron Collider, CERN’s 27-km long particle smasher. These chambers are ringed by sensors that can pick up the energies of millions of particles generated in each smash-up, and tally this against the known collision energy. If some energy is missing, it might indicate the creation of a particle that could not be detected by any sensors: dark matter.

    So far, notwithstanding a brief, hallucinatory blip in late 2015, the LHC has not discovered anything that might constitute a dark matter particle such as a WIMP. But the LHC has only collected about 1% of the data it is due to produce before it is retired in 2025. So it is too early to throw in the towel on producing dark matter yet. Plans are afoot for the LHC’s successor, which will be able to probe far higher energies.

    Snowmelt from the Alpine ranges had swelled the Ovens River. I had to hug the shore with my metal detector, where the water was shallow and easy to sweep. I searched those parts that I could search as thoroughly as possible. If I did not find my prize, I wanted to at least be able to point to the map and say with confidence where the ring was not.

    The map that physicists search has coordinates of energy levels and interaction strengths. Each new search sweeps out a new territory, so even a null result is valuable information. So far, in our search for the three primary candidates – axions, sterile neutrinos and WIMPs – we have only probed the most shallow, accessible waters. “There’s nothing really that says they have to be easy to detect,” Mack says. “It may just be that their interactions with our detectors are smaller than expected.”

    It took almost 50 years for the Higgs boson to be discovered. Gravitational waves took almost a century. Let’s not give up on dark matter just yet.

    I certainly won’t be giving up my own search. Next summer, when the Ovens dries, I will return to Bright and sweep the next unprobed area of the riverbed. I’d say wish me luck, but the point is to be so rigorous that luck has nothing to do with it.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 8:13 am on May 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CAST-CERN Axion Solar Telescope, , Helioscope, , ,   

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

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead


    1 May 2017
    Stefania Pandolfi

    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.


    CERN/LHC Map

    CERN LHC Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Quantum Diaries

    Cern Courier




    CERN CMS New

    CERN LHCb New II


    CERN/LHC Map

    CERN LHC Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    Quantum Diaries

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: