Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers, along with international collaborators, are on a mission to find particles contributing to dark matter, which is expected to make up most of the matter in the universe.
In a paper published May 2 in Nature Physics, the CERN Axion Solar Telescope at CERN presented new results on the properties of axions – hypothetical particles with minimal interactions with ordinary matter that therefore could constitute some or all of the mysterious dark matter, which is five times more abundant than normal matter.
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 the amount of matter and antimatter.
LLNL has been an active collaborator in CAST since 2005, primarily funded through support from the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.
The Lab plays a strong role in this large international collaboration and has a major leadership role in the proposed successor project, the International Axion Observatory, IAXO. “This is ground-breaking science with implication for elucidating the nature of dark matter, solving a long-standing particle physics problem and constraining cosmological models,” said Mike Pivovaroff, a member of the LLNL CAST team and one of the four CAST collaborators that wrote the manuscript.
The X-ray telescope developed by the LLNL researchers focuses the photons into a small spot, greatly enhancing the sensitivity of CAST. The CAST helioscope has operated since 2003 and follows the movement of the sun for 90 minutes at dawn and dusk, over several months each year.
“Taken with other Lab activities, including ADMX, LUX/LZ and searches for primordial black holes, this new work gives LLNL a very strong portfolio of dark matter research.”