, 72:1884
Date: 21 Feb 2012

Wide binaries as a critical test of classical gravity

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Abstract

Modified gravity scenarios where a change of regime appears at acceleration scales a<a 0 have been proposed. Since for 1M systems the acceleration drops below a 0 at scales of around 7000 AU, a statistical survey of wide binaries with relative velocities and separations reaching 104 AU and beyond should prove useful to the above debate. We apply the proposed test to the best currently available data. Results show a constant upper limit to the relative velocities in wide binaries which is independent of separation for over three orders of magnitude, in analogy with galactic flat rotation curves in the same a<a 0 acceleration regime. Our results are suggestive of a breakdown of Kepler’s third law beyond aa 0 scales, in accordance with generic predictions of modified gravity theories designed not to require any dark matter at galactic scales and beyond.