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Astron. Astrophys. 343, 439-445 (1999)


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The fine-structure constant: a new observational limit on its cosmological variation and some theoretical consequences

A.V. Ivanchik, A.Y. Potekhin and D.A. Varshalovich

Department of Theoretical Astrophysics, Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, St.-Petersburg 194021, Russia

Received 28 October 1997 / Accepted 8 October 1998

Abstract

Endeavours of the unification of the four fundamental interactions have resulted in a development of theories having cosmological solutions in which low-energy limits of fundamental physical constants vary with time. The validity of such theoretical models should be checked by comparison of the theoretical predictions with observational and experimental bounds on possible time-dependences of the fundamental constants.

Based on high-resolution measurements of quasar spectra, we obtain the following direct limits on the average rate of the cosmological time variation of the fine-structure constant [FORMULA]:

[EQUATION]

is the most likely limit, and

[EQUATION]

is the most conservative limit.

Analogous estimates published previously, as well as other contemporary tests for possible variations of [FORMULA] (those based on the "Oklo phenomenon", on the primordial nucleosynthesis models, and others) are discussed and compared with the present upper limit. We argue that the present result is the most conservative one.

Key words: cosmology: theory – galaxies: quasars: absorption lines

Send offprint requests to: A.V. Ivanchik (iav@astro.ioffe.rssi.ru)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: March 1, 1999

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