Journal Article

Non-linear electrodynamics and the variation of the fine structure constant

Jean Paul Mbelek and Herman J. Mosquera Cuesta

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 389, issue 1, pages 199-204
Published in print September 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online August 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13503.x
Non-linear electrodynamics and the variation of the fine structure constant

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It has been claimed that during the late-time history of our Universe, the fine structure constant of electromagnetism, α, has been increasing. The conclusion is achieved after looking at the separation between lines of ions like C iv, Mg ii, Si ii, Fe ii, among others in the absorption spectra of very distant quasars, and comparing them with their counterparts obtained in the laboratory.

However, in the meantime, other teams have claimed either a null result or a decreasing α with respect to the cosmic time. Also, the current precision of laboratory tests does not allow one to either comfort or reject any of these astronomical observations. Here, we suggest that as photons are the sidereal messengers, a non-linear electrodynamics (NLED) description of the interaction of photons with the weak local background magnetic fields of a gas cloud absorber around the emitting quasar can reconcile the Chand et al. and Levshakov et al. findings with the negative variation found by Murphy et al. and Webb et al., and also to find a bridge with the positive variation argued more recently by Levshakov et al. We also show that NLED photon propagation in a vacuum permeated by a background magnetic field presents a full agreement with constraints from Oklo natural reactor data. Finally, we show that NLED may render a null result only in a narrow range of the local background magnetic field which should be the case of both the claims by Chand et al. and by Srianand et al.

Keywords: atomic data; magnetic fields; methods: analytical; techniques: spectroscopic; galaxies: magnetic fields; quasars: absorption lines

Journal Article.  4920 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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