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Do the constants of nature couple to strong gravitational fields?

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-09-01, 09:19 authored by Simon P. Preval, Martin A. Barstow, J. B. Holberg, J. D. Barrow, J. C. Berengut, J. K. Webb, D. Dougan, J. Hu
Recently, white dwarf stars have found a new use in the fundamental physics community. Many prospective theories of the fundamental interactions of Nature allow traditional constants, like the fine structure constant α, to vary in some way. A study by Berengut et al. (2013) used the Fe/Ni v line measurements made by Preval et al. (2013) from the hot DA white dwarf G191-B2B, in an attempt to detect any variation in α. It was found that the Fe v lines indicated an increasing alpha, whereas the Ni v lines indicated a decreasing alpha. Possible explanations for this could be misidentification of the lines, inaccurate atomic data, or wavelength dependent distortion in the spectrum. We examine the first two cases by using a high S/N reference spectrum from the hot sdO BD+28°4211 to calibrate the Fe/Ni v atomic data. With this new data, we re-evaluate the work of Berengut et al. (2013) to derive a new constraint on the variation of alpha in a gravitational field.



Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, 2015, Volume 493 : 19th European Workshop on White Dwarfs, 415

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


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Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series


Astronomical Society of the Pacific



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4 pages, 2 figures: To appear in the proceedings of the "19th European White Dwarf Workshop" in Montreal, Canada, 2014



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