Searching for the QCD Axion with Gravitational Microlensing

Malcolm Fairbairn*, David J.E. Marsh, Jérémie Quevillon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)
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The phase transition responsible for axion dark matter (DM) production can create large amplitude isocurvature perturbations, which collapse into dense objects known as axion miniclusters. We use microlensing data from the EROS survey and from recent observations with the Subaru Hyper Suprime Cam to place constraints on the minicluster scenario. We compute the microlensing event rate for miniclusters, treating them as spatially extended objects. Using the published bounds on the number of microlensing events, we bound the fraction of DM collapsed into miniclusters fMC. For an axion with temperature-dependent mass consistent with the QCD axion, we find fMC<0.083(ma/100 μeV)0.12, which represents the first observational constraint on the minicluster fraction. We forecast that a high-efficiency observation of around ten nights with Subaru would be sufficient to constrain fMC 0.004 over the entire QCD axion mass range. We make various approximations to derive these constraints, and dedicated analyses by the observing teams of EROS and Subaru are necessary to confirm our results. If accurate theoretical predictions for fMC can be made in the future, then microlensing can be used to exclude or discover the QCD axion. Further details of our computations are presented in a companion paper [M. Fairbairn, D. J. E. Marsh, J. Quevillon, and S. Rozier (to be published)].

Original languageEnglish
Article number021101
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jul 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jul 2017


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