Do the constants of nature couple to strong gravitational fields?

S. P. Preval, M. A. Barstow, J. B. Holberg, J. D. Barrow, J. C. Berengut, J. K. Webb, D. Dougan, J. Hu

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication19th European Workshop on White Dwarfs
EditorsP. Dufour, P. Bergeron, G. Fontaine
Place of PublicationSan Francisco
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781583818718
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2015
Event19th European Workshop on White Dwarfs - Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
Duration: 11 Aug 201415 Aug 2016

Publication series

NameAstronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series
PublisherAstronomical Society of the Pacific


Conference19th European Workshop on White Dwarfs


  • white dwarf
  • stars
  • interactions
  • gravitational fields
  • atomic data
  • absorption
  • ionisation

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