Journal Article

A natural approach to extended Newtonian gravity: tests and predictions across astrophysical scales

S. Mendoza, X. Hernandez, J. C. Hidalgo and T. Bernal

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 411, issue 1, pages 226-234
Published in print February 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
A natural approach to extended Newtonian gravity: tests and predictions across astrophysical scales

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In the pursuit of a general formulation for a modified gravitational theory at the non-relativistic level and as an alternative to the dark matter hypothesis, we construct a model valid over a wide variety of astrophysical scales. Through the inclusion of Milgrom's acceleration constant into a gravitational theory, we show that very general formulae can be constructed for the acceleration felt by a particle. Dimensional analysis shows that this inclusion naturally leads to the appearance of a mass-length scale in gravity, breaking its scale invariance. A particular form of the modified gravitational force is constructed and tested for consistency with observations over a wide range of astrophysical environments, from Solar system to extragalactic scales. We show that over any limited range of physical parameters, which define a specific class of astrophysical objects, the dispersion velocity of a system must be a power law of its mass and size. These powers appear linked together through a natural constraint relation of the theory. This yields a generalized gravitational equilibrium relation valid for all astrophysical systems. A general scheme for treating spherical symmetrical density distributions is presented, which in particular shows that the Fundamental Plane of elliptical galaxies, the Newtonian virial equilibrium, the Tully–Fisher and the Faber–Jackson relations, as well as the scalings observed in local dwarf spheroidal galaxies, are nothing but particular cases of that relation when applied to the appropriate mass-length scales. We discuss the implications of this approach for a modified theory of gravity and emphasize the advantages of working with the force, instead of altering Newton's second law of motion, in the formulation of a gravitational theory.

Keywords: gravitation; galaxies: general; galaxies: kinematics and dynamics; Local Group

Journal Article.  7342 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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