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Updated constraints on spatial variations of the fine-structure constant

A. M. M. Pinho, C. J. A. P. Martins

Recent work by Webb {it et al.} has provided indications of spatial variations of the fine-structure constant, α, at a level of a few parts per million. Using a dataset of 293 archival measurements, they further show that a dipole provides a statistically good fit to the data, a result subsequently confirmed by other authors. Here we show that a more recent dataset of dedicated measurements further constrains these variations: although there are only 10 such measurements, their uncertainties are considerably smaller. We find that a dipolar variation is still a good fit to the combined dataset, but the amplitude of such a dipole must be somewhat smaller: 8.1±1.7 ppm for the full dataset, versus 9.4±2.2 ppm for the Webb {it et al.} data alone, both at the 68.3% confidence level. Constraints on the direction on the sky of such a dipole are also significantly improved. On the other hand the data can't yet discriminate between a pure spatial dipole and one with an additional redshift dependence.

Physical Review B
Volume 756, Page 121
May 2016

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Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences

Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA) is a new but long anticipated research infrastructure with a national dimension. It embodies a bold but feasible vision for the development of Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Portugal, taking full advantage and fully realizing the potential created by the national membership of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). IA resulted from the merging the two most prominent research units in the field in Portugal: the Centre for Astrophysics of the University of Porto (CAUP) and the Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Lisbon (CAAUL). It currently hosts more than two-thirds of all active researchers working in Space Sciences in Portugal, and is responsible for an even greater fraction of the national productivity in international ISI journals in the area of Space Sciences. This is the scientific area with the highest relative impact factor (1.65 times above the international average) and the field with the highest average number of citations per article for Portugal.

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