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Does the Fine Structure Constant Vary? A Detailed Investigation into Systematic Effects

  • M. T. Murphy
  • J. K. Webb
  • V. V. Flambaum
  • S. J. Curran
Chapter

Abstract

We have previously presented 5.7 σ evidence for a smaller α at redshifts 0.2 < z abs <3.7 from a sample of 128 Keck/HIRES quasar absorption systems:△α/α=(-0.57±0.01) . A non-zero △α/α manifests itself as a distinct pattern of shifts in the measured absorption line wavelengths. The statistical error is now small: we do detect small line shifts in the HIRES data Whether these shifts are due to systematic errors or due to real variation in α is now the central question. Here we summarize the two potentially most ;important systematic effects: atmospheric dispersion and isotopic abundance evolution. Previously, these have been difficult to quantify/model but here we find that neither of them can explain our results. Furthermore, the HIRES spectra themselves contain no evidence for these effects. Independent measurements of △α/α with a different telescope and spectrograph are now crucial if we are to rule out or confirm the present evidence for a variable α

Keywords

Atmospheric Dispersion Fine Structure Constant Spectrograph Slit Line Removal Isotopic Structure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. T. Murphy
    • 1
  • J. K. Webb
    • 1
  • V. V. Flambaum
    • 1
  • S. J. Curran
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PhysicsUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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