PhD Defense: Matipon Tangmatitham
Advisor: Prof. Robert Nemiroff
Title: Testing the Weak Equivalence Principle with Cosmological Gamma Ray Bursts
Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) with rapid variations at cosmological distances are used to place new limits on violations of the gravitational weak equivalence principle (WEP). These limits track intrinsic timing deviations between GRB photons of different energies as they cross the universe, in particular in the KeV to GeV energy range. Previous limits in this energy range have involved only the gravitational potential of local sources and utilized temporal variability on the order of 0.1 seconds. Here WEP violation limits are derived from sources with greater distance, faster variability, and larger intervening mass. Specifically, GRB sources with redshifts as high as 6.5 are considered, with variability as fast 0.2 milliseconds, and passing the gravitational potentials of inferred clusters of galaxies distributed randomly around the line of sight. WEP violation limits are derived from data from GRB 910711, GRB 920229, GRB 021206, GRB 051221, GRB 090429, and GRB 090510. The strongest constraint in the very early universe comes from GRB 090429 which limits gamma(500 keV) - gamma(250 keV) < 1.2E-13. The strongest overall constraint comes from GRB 090510 which yields a WEP violation limit of gamma(30 GeV) - gamma(1 GeV) < 6.6E-16. This strongest constraint is not only a new record for WEP violation limit for gamma-ray photons and in the early universe, but the strongest upper bound for Weak Equivalence Principle violations that has ever been recorded between any two energy bands.
Tuesday, April 16 at 9:00 am
Fisher Hall, 138
1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931