Testing Special Relativity with Geodetic VLBI

  • Oleg Titov
  • Hana KrásnáEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the International Association of Geodesy Symposia book series (IAG SYMPOSIA, volume 149)


Geodetic Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) measures the group delay in the barycentric reference frame. As the Earth is orbiting around the Solar system barycentre with the velocity V of 30 km/s, VLBI proves to be a handy tool to detect the subtle effects of the special and general relativity theory with a magnitude of (V∕c)2. The theoretical correction for the second order terms reaches up to 300 ps, and it is implemented in the geodetic VLBI group delay model. The total contribution of the second order terms splits into two effects – the variation of the Earth scale, and the deflection of the apparent position of the radio source. The Robertson-Mansouri-Sexl (RMS) generalization of the Lorenz transformation is used for many modern tests of the special relativity theory. We develop an alteration of the RMS formalism to probe the Lorenz invariance with the geodetic VLBI data. The kinematic approach implies three parameters (as a function of the moving reference frame velocity) and the standard Einstein synchronisation. A generalised relativistic model of geodetic VLBI data includes all three parameters that could be estimated. Though, since the modern laboratory Michelson-Morley and Kennedy-Thorndike experiments are more accurate than VLBI technique, the presented equations may be used to test the VLBI group delay model itself.


Lorentz invariance Special relativity VLBI 



The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions and comments which helped to improve the manuscript significantly. We acknowledge the IVS and all its components for providing VLBI data (Nothnagel et al. 2015). Hana Krásná works within the Hertha Firnberg position T697-N29, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). This paper has been published with the permission of the Geoscience Australia CEO.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geoscience AustraliaCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Technische Universität WienViennaAustria
  3. 3.Astronomical InstituteCzech Academy of SciencesPragueCzech Republic

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