NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Testing Special Relativity at High Energies with Astrophysical SourcesSince the group of Lorentz boosts is unbounded, there is a question as to whether Lorentz invariance (LI) holds to infinitely short distances. However, special and general relativity may break down at the Planck scale. Various quantum gravity scenarios such as loop quantum gravity, as well as some forms of string theory and extra dimension models may imply Lorentz violation (LV) at ultrahigh energies. The Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST), to be launched in mid-December, will measure the spectra of distant extragalactic sources of high energy gamma-rays, particularly active galactic nuclei and gamma-ray bursts. GLAST can look for energy-dependent gamma-ray propagation effects from such sources as a signal of Lorentz invariance violation. These sources may also exhibit the high energy cutoffs predicted to be the result of intergalactic annihilation interactions with low energy photons having a flux level as determined by various astronomical observations. With LV the threshold for such interactions can be significantly raised, changing the predicted absorption turnover in the observed spectrum of the sources. Stecker and Glashow have shown that the existence such absorption features in the spectra of extragalactic sources puts constraints on LV. Such constraints have important implications for some quantum gravity and large extra dimension models. Future spaceborne detectors dedicated to measuring gamma-ray polarization can look for birefringence effects as a possible signal of loop quantum gravity. A very small LV may also result in the modification or elimination of the GZK effect, thus modifying the spectrum of ultrahigh energy cosmic rays. This possibility can be explored with ground-based arrays such as Auger or with a space based detector system such as the proposed OWL satellite mission.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Stecker, F. W. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
May 30, 2007
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.