Monday, July 02, 2007

No Axions Here

Welp, there goes the evidence for the detection of axions. The PVLAS group in Italy that originally made the claim of detecting these particles has not been able to reproduce the measurement (link accessible via free registration).

Now, the PVLAS team has repeated the original experiment at two different magnetic field strengths. While the rotation was again observed at the original field of 5.5 T, no effect was seen at 2.3 T – leading the team to conclude that the rotation is an instrumental effect related to the magnetic field strength.

The latest news from Italy should come as a relief to physicists who believe that axions could make up dark matter. This is because the PVLAS axion appeared to couple too strongly to light to be a suitable candidate for dark matter.

The null result also puts PVLAS line with an experiment at CERN called CAST, which has been trying to convert solar photons into axions in a 10-m long test magnet. CAST has found no evidence for axions at the coupling strength implied by the 2006 PVLAS result.

I think there are still groups that will further test the PVLAS result, or explore another way to see if they can detect these axions. I wish them all the luck in the world.


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