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Photon mass limits from fast radio bursts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Luca Bonetti, John Ellis, Nikolaos E. Mavromatos, Alexander S. Sakharov, Edward K. Sarkisyan-Grinbaum, Alessandro D. A. M. Spallicci

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-552
Number of pages5
JournalPhysics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics
Volume757
Early online date20 Apr 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2016

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Abstract

The frequency-dependent time delays in fast radio bursts (FRBs) can be used to constrain the photon mass, if the FRB redshifts are known, but the similarity between the frequency dependences of dispersion due to plasma effects and a photon mass complicates the derivation of a limit on mγ. The dispersion measure (DM) of FRB 150418 is known to ~0.1%, and there is a claim to have measured its redshift with an accuracy of ~2%, but the strength of the constraint on mγ is limited by uncertainties in the modelling of the host galaxy and the Milky Way, as well as possible inhomogeneities in the intergalactic medium (IGM). Allowing for these uncertainties, the recent data on FRB 150418 indicate that mγ≲1.8×10-14 eVc-2 (3.2×10-50 kg), if FRB 150418 indeed has a redshift z=0.492 as initially reported. In the future, the different redshift dependences of the plasma and photon mass contributions to DM can be used to improve the sensitivity to mγ if more FRB redshifts are measured. For a fixed fractional uncertainty in the extra-galactic contribution to the DM of an FRB, one with a lower redshift would provide greater sensitivity to mγ.

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