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Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto

A molecular probe of dark energy

R. I. Thompson, J. Bechtold, D. J. Eisenstein, X. Fan, D. Arnett , C. J. A. P. Martins, R. C Kennicutt, J. H. Black

Many theoretical models of dark energy invoke rolling scaler fields which in turn predict time varying values of the fundamental constants. Establishing the value of the fundamental constants at various times in the universe can probe and test the various dark energy theories. One of the constants that is predicted to vary is the ratio of the electron to proton mass μ. It was established early on that molecular spectra are sensitive to the value of μ and can be used as probes of that value. This article describes the use of the spectrum of molecular hydrogen in high redshift Damped Lyman Alpha systems (DLAs) as a sensitive probe of the time evolution of μ.

Advances in Space Research
Volume 42, Page 596
August 2008

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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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