Constraint on a varying proton-to-electron mass ratio from H2 and HD absorption at zabs ≃ 2.34

M. Daprà, M. Laan, M.T. Murphy, W. Ubachs

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Molecular hydrogen (H2) absorption in the damped Lyman α system at zabs = 2.34 towards quasar SDSS J123437.55+075843.3 is analysed in order to derive 'a constraint on a possible temporal variation of the proton-to-electronmass ratio,μ, over cosmological time-scales. Some 106 H2 and deuterated molecular hydrogen (HD) transitions, covering the range 3290-3726 Å, are analysed with a comprehensive fitting technique, allowing for the inclusion of overlapping lines associated with hydrogen molecules, the atomic hydrogen lines in the Lyman α forest as well as metal lines. The absorption model, based on the most recent and accurate rest wavelength for H2 and HD transitions, delivers a value of Δμ/μ = (19 ± 9stat ± 5syst) × 10-6. An attempt to correct the spectrum for possible long-range wavelength distortions is made, and the uncertainty on the distortion correction is included in the total systematic uncertainty. The present result is an order of magnitude more stringent than a previous measurement from the analysis of this absorption system, based on a line-by-line comparison of only 12 prominent and isolated H2 absorption lines. This is consistent with other measurements of Δμ/μ from 11 other absorption systems in showing a null variation of the proton-to-electron mass ratio over a look-back time of 11 Gyr.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberstw3003
Pages (from-to)4057-4073
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date22 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Methods: data analysis
  • Quasars: absorption lines
  • Quasars: individual: SDSS J123437.55+075843.3


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