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The variation of the fine-structure constant from disformal couplings

C. van de Bruck, J. Mifsud, N. J. Nunes

Abstract
We study a theory in which the electromagnetic field is disformally coupled to a scalar field, in addition to a usual non-minimal electromagnetic coupling. We show that disformal couplings modify the expression for the fine-structure constant, α. As a result, the theory we consider can explain the non-zero reported variation in the evolution of α by purely considering disformal couplings. We also find that if matter and photons are coupled in the same way to the scalar field, disformal couplings itself do not lead to a variation of the fine-structure constant. A number of scenarios are discussed consistent with the current astrophysical, geochemical, laboratory and the cosmic microwave background radiation constraints on the cosmological evolution of α. The models presented are also consistent with the current type Ia supernovae constraints on the effective dark energy equation of state. We find that the Oklo bound in particular puts strong constraints on the model parameters. From our numerical results, we find that the introduction of a non-minimal electromagnetic coupling enhances the cosmological variation in α. Better constrained data is expected to be reported by ALMA and with the forthcoming generation of high-resolution ultra-stable spectrographs such as PEPSI, ESPRESSO, and ELT-HIRES. Furthermore, an expected increase in the sensitivity of molecular and nuclear clocks will put a more stringent constraint on the theory.

Keywords
modifed gravity, dark energy theory

Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Volume 12, Page 018
2015 December

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Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia