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Galactic methanol spectra constrains changes in electron-proton mass ratio

from Ars Technica

The constancy of physical constants, like the electron-proton mass ratio, is a reasonable assumption, but it isn't a necessary feature of the Universe. Indeed some physicists have postulated the existence of slowly varying parameters instead of constants. If this is true molecular spectra of the same molecule in two distant galaxies might be different. A team of astrophysicists has measured the rotational spectra of methanol that absorbed light some 7 billion years ago. The difference between this spectra and that taken presently in the lab was incredibly small: less than one part in 107. Methanol's torsional spectrum depends directly on the relationship between the proton and electron mass. Thus the researchers suggest that their work at least sets a limit on a possible cosmological variation of the proton-to-electron mass ratio. The work is reported in Science. more


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