IFCA is involved in an international study that limits the theories that attempt to unite gravity and quantum physics

Illustration of the INTEGRAL mission
Research has measured the polarization of gamma rays from cosmic sources at distances

Alberto Fernández-Soto, a researcher at the Institute of Physics of Cantabria (CSIC-UC) has participated in an international study whose results indicate that the speed of light does not vary depending on its polarization, as pointed so far some theoretical models of advanced physics.

Theoretical models that attempt to combine the General Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics have encountered a new obstacle. This study found polarization of gamma rays from a distant object and concluded that the speed of light does not vary depending on its polarization, as pointed so far some theoretical models of advanced physics. The study results were published in the journal Physical Review D.
Polarization is a property of light waves, which basically indicates that there is a certain order in how they travel. Light from the sun or a light bulb is not polarized, since there is a special order in the source of light. Instead, it polarizes the light reflected off a surface because all waves are reflected in it the same way. So sunglasses with polarizing filter, which are partially opaque to polarized light, can help you see better by eliminating glare and reflection.

"Some theoretical models that attempt to unify gravity, within the General Theory of Relativity postulated by Einstein, and quantum mechanics provide some strange properties of light as it travels in a vacuum. One is an effect called birrefrigerance, which causes the light waves 'clutter', depolarize slowly as they move through space. If so we could not see polarized light from stars or distant galaxies because this property would have been dissolving the road. These theoretical models also provide that this effect is stronger the higher the energy of the photons and the longer the journey must go, "says researcher Alberto Fernández-Soto.

The results of this study, which has been used in the satellite INTEGRAL measurements of the European Space Agency, the observation of polarized light from a distant object can be inferred that the cosmic birrefrigerancia can produce extremely small effect.
To reach their conclusions, the international team of researchers has used data from the observation of one of the brightest cosmic explosion recorded to date, GRB 041219A, which occurred in December 2004. "It was so bright that the INTEGRAL satellite was able to measure the polarization of gamma rays coming from it. Recently we have also managed to estimate the distance to the galaxy where the explosion occurred, and the union of two data-signal polarized gamma rays and the distance to the source, has allowed us to obtain the most restrictive limit to the theoretical models to date, "added Fernandez-Soto.

P. Laurent, D. Götz, P. Binétruy, S. Covino, A. Fernandez-Soto. Constraints on Lorentz Invariance Violation using INTEGRAL / IBIS observations of GRB041219A. Physical Review D.


Instituto de Física de Cantabria
Edificio Juan Jordá
Avenida de los Castros, s/n
E-39005 Santander
Cantabria, España

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El Instituto de Física de Cantabria es un Centro Mixto del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas y de la Universidad de Cantabria.

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