Solar System planetary tests of \({\dot c/c}\)

Research Article


Analytical and numerical calculations show that a putative temporal variation of the speed of light c, with the meaning of space-time structure constant cST, assumed to be linear over timescales of about one century, would induce a secular precession of the longitude of the pericenter \({\varpi}\) of a test particle orbiting a spherically symmetric body. By comparing such a predicted effect to the corrections \({\Delta\dot\varpi}\) to the usual Newtonian/Einsteinian perihelion precessions of the inner planets of the Solar System, recently estimated by E.V. Pitjeva by fitting about one century of modern astronomical observations with the standard classical/relativistic dynamical force models of the EPM epehemerides, we obtained \({\dot c/c =(0.5\pm 2)\times 10^{-7} {\rm yr}^{-1}}\) . Moreover, the possibility that \({\dot c/c\neq 0}\) over the last century is ruled out at 3−12σ level by taking the ratios of the perihelia for different pairs of planets. Our results are independent of any measurement of the variations of other fundamental constants which may be explained by a variation of c itself (with the meaning of electromagnetic constant cEM). It will be important to repeat such tests if and when other teams of astronomers will estimate their own corrections to the standard Newtonian/Einsteinian planetary perihelion precessions with different ephemerides.


Experimental studies of gravity Modified theories of gravity Solar system objects 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INFN-Sezione di PisaBariItaly

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