Do the constants of nature couple to strong gravitational fields?

Preval, S. P. and Barstow, M. A. and Holberg, J. B. and Barrow, J. D. and Berengut, J. C. and Webb, J. K. and Dougan, D. and Hu, J.; Dufour, P. and Bergeron, P. and Fontaine, G., eds. (2015) Do the constants of nature couple to strong gravitational fields? In: 19th European Workshop on White Dwarfs. Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, 493 . Astronomical Society of the Pacific, CAN, pp. 415-418. ISBN 9781583818718 (

[thumbnail of Preval-etal-EWWD2015-Do-the-constraints-of-nature-couple-to-strong-gravitational-fields]
Text. Filename: Preval_etal_EWWD2015_Do_the_constraints_of_nature_couple_to_strong_gravitational_fields.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (492kB)| Preview


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 misidenti- fication 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.