Axion cosmology

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Axions comprise a broad class of particles that can play a major role in explaining the unknown aspects of cosmology. They are also well-motivated within high energy physics, appearing in theories related to CPCP-violation in the standard model, supersymmetric theories, and theories with extra-dimensions, including string theory, and so axion cosmology offers us a unique view onto these theories. I review the motivation and models for axions in particle physics and string theory. I then present a comprehensive and pedagogical view on the cosmology and astrophysics of axion-like particles, starting from inflation and progressing via BBN, the CMB, reionization and structure formation, up to the present-day Universe. Topics covered include: axion dark matter (DM); direct and indirect detection of axions, reviewing existing and future experiments; axions as dark radiation; axions and the cosmological constant problem; decays of heavy axions; axions and stellar astrophysics; black hole superradiance; axions and astrophysical magnetic fields; axion inflation, and axion DM as an indirect probe of inflation. A major focus is on the population of ultralight axions created via vacuum realignment, and its role as a DM candidate with distinctive phenomenology. Cosmological observations place robust constraints on the axion mass and relic density in this scenario, and I review where such constraints come from. I next cover aspects of galaxy formation with axion DM, and ways this can be used to further search for evidence of axions. An absolute lower bound on DM particle mass is established. It is View the MathML sourcema>10−24eV from linear observables, extending to View the MathML sourcema≳10−22eV from non-linear observables, and has the potential to reach View the MathML sourcema≳10−18eV in the future. These bounds are weaker if the axion is not all of the DM, giving rise to limits on the relic density at low mass. This leads to the exciting possibility that the effects of axion DM on structure formation could one day be detected, and the axion mass and relic density measured from cosmological observables.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-79
Number of pages79
JournalPhysics Reports
Early online date28 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


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