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Michael Gregg '08 and Seth Major Publish Article

Posted August 11, 2009
Tags Physics
An article by Michael Gregg ’08 and Associate Professor of Physics Seth Major titled “On Modified Dispersion Relations and the Chandrasekhar Mass Limit,” has been published in the International Journal of Modern Physics D [Vol 18 (2009) 971]. In the article, based on Gregg’s senior project, they report on the results of their study of the consequences of modifying special relativity.

Motivated by possible effects of quantum gravity, the special relativistic relation between energy and momentum (the “dispersion relation”) may be modified at high energy. This relation, at high energy, is precisely what determines the mass limit on white dwarf stars, one of the possible final endpoints in the life cycle of stars. The mass limit (the “Chandrasekhar mass”) predicts an upper bound on the mass of a white dwarf stars.

Gregg and Major found that modifications to the dispersion relation affect the mass limit, either increasing or decreasing the Chandrasekhar mass, depending on the sign of the modification. Due to other processes that also occur at high energy it is very unlikely that this new prediction could be observed, even if the modifications to special relativity were correct.

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