3 years ago

Stringent constraints on fundamental constant evolution using conjugate 18 cm satellite OH lines.

Jayaram N. Chengalur, Tapasi Ghosh, Nissim Kanekar

We have used the Arecibo Telescope to carry out one of the deepest-ever integrations in radio astronomy, targetting the redshifted conjugate satellite OH 18 cm lines at $z \approx 0.247$ towards PKS1413+135. The satellite OH 1720 and 1612 MHz lines are respectively in emission and absorption, with exactly the same line shapes due to population inversion in the OH ground state levels. Since the 1720 and 1612 MHz line rest frequencies have different dependences on the fine structure constant $\alpha$ and the proton-electron mass ratio $\mu$, a comparison between their measured redshifts allows one to probe changes in $\alpha$ and $\mu$ with cosmological time. In the case of conjugate satellite OH 18 cm lines, the predicted perfect cancellation of the sum of the line optical depths provides a strong test for the presence of systematic effects that might limit their use in probing fundamental constant evolution. A non-parametric analysis of our new Arecibo data yields $\left[\Delta X/X \right] = (+0.97 \pm 1.52) \times 10^{-6}$, where $X \equiv \mu \alpha^2$. Combining this with our earlier results from the Arecibo Telescope and the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, we obtain $\left[\Delta X/X \right] = (-1.0 \pm 1.3) \times 10^{-6}$, consistent with no changes in the quantity $\mu \alpha^2$ over the last 2.9~Gyr. This is the most stringent present constraint on fractional changes in $\mu \alpha^2$ from astronomical spectroscopy, and with no evidence for systematic effects.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.07688

DOI: arXiv:1801.07688v1

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