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Conventional approaches to probing axions and axion-like particles (ALPs) typically rely on a coupling to photons. However, if this coupling is extremely weak, ALPs become invisible and are effectively decoupled from the Standard Model. Here we show that such invisible axions, which are viable candidates for dark matter, can produce a stochastic gravitational wave background in the early universe. This signal is generated in models where the invisible axion couples to a dark gauge boson that experiences a tachyonic instability when the axion begins to oscillate. Incidentally, the same mechanism also widens the viable parameter space for axion dark matter. Quantum fluctuations amplified by the exponentially growing gauge boson modes source chiral gravitational waves. For axion decay constants f ≳ 1017 GeV, this signal is detectable by either pulsar timing arrays or space/ground-based gravitational wave detectors for a broad range of axion masses, thus providing a new window to probe invisible axion models.
KeywordsCosmology of Theories beyond the SM Beyond Standard Model
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