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Fine-structure constant variability: surprises for laboratory atomic spectroscopy and cosmological evolution of quasar spectra

By SpaceRef Editor
January 30, 2003
Filed under , ,

Astrophysics, abstract
astro-ph/0301566


From: Jacob D. Bekenstein <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 06:45:17 GMT (10kb)

Fine-structure constant variability: surprises for laboratory atomic
spectroscopy and cosmological evolution of quasar spectra


Authors:
Jacob D. Bekenstein

Comments: RevTeX, 4 pages


Calculation of the Dirac hydrogen atom spectrum in the framework of dynamical
fine structure constant (alpha) variability discloses a small departure in the
laboratory from Sommerfeld’s formula for the fine structure shifts, possibly
measurable today. And for a distant object in the universe, the wavelength
shift of a spectral line specifically ascribable to cosmological alpha
variation is found to depend differently on the quantum numbers than in the
conventional view. This last result clashes with the conventional wisdom that
an atom’s spectrum can change with cosmological time only through evolution of
the alpha parameter in the energy eigenvalue formula, and thus impacts on the
Webb group’s analysis of fine structure intervals in quasar absorption lines
(which has been claimed to disclose cosmological alpha evolution). In
particular, analyzing together a mix of quasar absorption lines from different
fine structure multiplets can bias estimates of cosmological alpha variability.

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