Vol 20, No 12

Combined limit on the photon mass with nine localized fast radio bursts

Jun-Jie Wei, Xue-Feng Wu


Abstract A nonzero-mass hypothesis for the photon can produce a frequency-dependent dispersion of light, which results in arrival-time differences of photons with different frequencies originating from a given transient source. Extragalactic fast radio bursts (FRBs), with their low frequency emissions, short time durations, and long propagation distances, are excellent astrophysical probes to constrain the rest mass of the photon m γ . However, the derivation of a limit on mγ is complicated by the similar frequency dependences of dispersion expected from the plasma and nonzero photon mass effects. If a handful measurements of redshift for FRBs are available, then the different redshift dependences of the plasma and photon mass contributions to the dispersion measure (DM) might be able to break dispersion degeneracy in testing the photon mass. For now, nine FRBs with redshift measurements have been reported, which can turn this idea into reality. Taking into account the DM contributions from both the plasma and a possible photon mass, we use the data on the nine FRBs to derive a combined limit of m γ ≤ 7.1 × 10−51 kg, or equivalently mγ ≤ 4.0 × 10 −15 eV/c2 at 68% confidence level, which is essentially as good as or represents a factor of 7 improvement over previous limits obtained by the single FRBs. Additionally, a reasonable estimation for the DM contribution from the host galaxy, DM host , can be simultaneously achieved in our analysis. The rapid progress in localizing FRBs will further tighten the constraints on both m γ and DM host .


Keywords radio continuum: general — intergalactic medium — astroparticle physics

Full Text

  • There are currently no refbacks.