We study the change of the effective fine structure constant in the cosmological models of a scalar field with a nonvanishing coupling to the electromagnetic field. Combining cosmological data and terrestrial observations we place empirical constraints on the size of the possible coupling and explore a large class of models that exhibit tracking behavior. The change of the fine structure constant implied by the quasar absorption spectra together with the requirement of tracking behavior impose a lower bound of the size of this coupling. Furthermore, the transition to the quintessence regime implies a narrow window for this coupling around [Formula Presented] in units of the inverse Planck mass. We also propose a nonminimal coupling between electromagnetism and quintessence which has the effect of leading only to changes of alpha determined from atomic physics phenomena, but leaving no observable consequences through nuclear physics effects. In doing so we are able to reconcile the claimed cosmological evidence for a changing fine structure constant with the tight constraints emerging from the Oklo natural nuclear reactor.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology|
|State||Published - 2004|