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Current and future white dwarf mass-radius constraints on varying fundamental couplings and unification scenarios

D. M. N. Magano, J. M. A. Vilas Boas, C. J. A. P. Martins

We discuss the feasibility of using astrophysical observations of white dwarfs as probes of fundamental physics. We quantify the effects of varying fundamental couplings on the white dwarf mass-radius relation in a broad class of unification scenarios, both for the simple case of a polytropic stellar structure model and for more general models. Independent measurements of the mass and radius, together with direct spectroscopic measurements of the fine-structure constant in white dwarf atmospheres lead to constraints on combinations of the two phenomenological parameters describing the underlying unification scenario (one of which is related to the strong sector of the theory while the other is related to the electroweak sector). While currently available measurements do not yet provide stringent constraints, we show that forthcoming improvements, expected for example from the Gaia satellite, can break parameter degeneracies and lead to constraints that ideally complement those obtained from local laboratory tests using atomic clocks.


Physical Review D
Volume 96, Issue 8, Page 11
2017 October

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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