A strong astrophysical constraint on the violation of special relativity by quantum gravity.

Academic Article


  • Special relativity asserts that physical phenomena appear the same to all unaccelerated observers. This is called Lorentz symmetry and relates long wavelengths to short ones: if the symmetry is exact it implies that space-time must look the same at all length scales. Several approaches to quantum gravity, however, suggest that there may be a microscopic structure of space-time that leads to a violation of Lorentz symmetry. This might arise because of the discreteness or non-commutivity of space-time, or through the action of extra dimensions. Here we determine a very strong constraint on a type of Lorentz violation that produces a maximum electron speed less than the speed of light. We use the observation of 100-MeV synchrotron radiation from the Crab nebula to improve the previous limit by a factor of 40 million, ruling out this type of Lorentz violation, and thereby providing an important constraint on theories of quantum gravity.
  • Authors

  • Jacobson, T
  • Liberati, S
  • Mattingly, David
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • August 28, 2003
  • Published In

  • Nature  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 12944959
  • Start Page

  • 1019
  • End Page

  • 1021
  • Volume

  • 424
  • Issue

  • 6952