A radio astronomy search for cold dark matter axions

Katharine Kelley, P. J. Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The search for axions has gained ground in recent years, with laboratory searches for cold dark matter (CDM) axions, relativistic solar axions, and ultra-light axions as the subject of extensive literature. In particular, the interest in axions as CDM candidates has been motivated by their potential to account for all of the inferred values of Omega(DM) similar to 0.26 in the standard Lambda CDM model. Indeed, the value of Omega(DM) similar to 0.26 could be provided by a light axion. We investigate the possibility of complementing existing axion search experiments with radio telescope observations in an attempt to detect axion conversion in astrophysical magnetic fields. Searching for a CDM axion signal from a large-scale astrophysical environment provides new challenges, with the magnetic field structure playing a crucial role in both the rate of interaction and the properties of the observed photon. However, with a predicted frequency in the radio band (200 MHz-200 GHz) and a distinguishable spectral profile, next-generation radio telescopes may offer new opportunities for detection. The SKA-mid telescope has a planned frequency range of 0.4-13.8 GHz with optimal sensitivity in the range of similar to 2-7 GHz. Considering observations at similar to 500 MHz, the limiting sensitivity is expected to be similar to 0.04 mK based on a 24 hr integration time. This compares with a predicted CDM axion all-sky signal temperature of similar to 0.04 mK using SKA Phase 1 telescopes and up to similar to 1.17 mK using a collecting area of (1 km)(2) as planned for Phase 2.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL4
Number of pages5
JournalLetters of the Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2017


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