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Current and future constraints on Bekenstein-type models for varying couplings

A. C. O. Leite, C. J. A. P. Martins

Astrophysical tests of the stability of dimensionless fundamental couplings, such as the fine-structure constant α and the proton-to-electron mass ratio μ, are an optimal probe of new physics. There is a growing interest in these tests, following indications of possible spacetime variations at the few parts per million level. Here we make use of the latest astrophysical measurements, combined with background cosmological observations, to obtain improved constraints on Bekenstein-type models for the evolution of both couplings. These are arguably the simplest models allowing for α and μ variations, and are characterized by a single free dimensionless parameter, ζ, describing the coupling of the underlying dynamical degree of freedom to the electromagnetic sector. In the former case we find that this parameter is constrained to be |ζα|<4.8×10−6 (improving previous constraints by a factor of 6), while in the latter (which we quantitatively compare to astrophysical measurements for the first time) we find ζμ=(2.7±3.1)×10−7; both of these are at the 99.7% confidence level. For ζα this constraint is about 20 times stronger than the one obtained from local Weak Equivalence Principle tests, while for ζμ it is about 2 orders of magnitude weaker. We also discuss the improvements on these constraints to be expected from the forthcoming ESPRESSO and ELT-HIRES spectrographs, conservatively finding a factor around 5 for the former and around 50 for the latter.

Physical Review D
Volume 94, Issue 2
2016 July

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