The quest for solar axions: results from CAST and prospects for IAXO

Mike Pivovaroff
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
11:00 am
FRH 4135
Determining the nature of Dark Matter (DM) remains one of the most challenging problems in physics.   The two leading candidates for DM are weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs) and the axion, originally proposed forty years ago as a solution to a problem with the Standard Model of particle physics.  In the last decade there has been a renewed interest in axions, as results from the Large Hadron Collider and direct searches have eliminated significant parts of WIMP parameter space.  If axions exist, they are continuously produced in our Sun and provide an intriguing avenue for experimental searches using axion helioscopes.
In this seminar, I will begin with a brief overview of axion physics and the current experimental landscape.   I will then move to a detailed description of the CERN Axion Solar Telescope (CAST), a long-running axion helioscope. I will discuss the key technologies that enable CAST and present recent results which have unprecedented levels of sensitivity over a large range of axion masses. I will conclude with a look towards the International Axion Observatory (IAXO), a next-generation axion helioscope designed to search for axions and axion-like-particle with properties that would not only constitute DM, but possibly address currently unexplained astrophysical observations.
Michael Pivovaroff, PhD, has over twenty years of experience delivering hardware and instrumentation for basic science and national security missions.  Much of his research involves designing, fabricating and implementing x-ray optics for a wide range of applications including astrophysics, biomedical imaging, DOE light sources and test facilities, nuclear non-proliferation and particle physics.
Mike has (co)-authored more than sixty refereed articles and eighty conference proceedings and contributed to several community reviews and workshop reports.  He regularly serves on review committees for the Department of Energy and NASA, as a referee for journals and as a conference organizer.  In 2015, he was elected a Senior Member of SPIE for his research on reflective X-ray optics.  In 2017, he was selected for LLNL’s Early and Mid-Career Recognition (EMCR) Program.
Mike has a BA in Physics from UC Berkeley and a PhD in Physics from MIT.   He was also a Fellow at Texas A&M where he did graduate course work in political science and earned a certificate in National Security Studies.   During his career at LLNL, Mike has held several management positions.  Currently, he leads the Director’s Initiative for Space and is the Program Leader for Space Science and Security. 
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