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First cosmological constraints on the proton-to-electron mass ratio from observations of rotational transitions of methanol

  • Ellingsen, S. P.
  • Voronkov, M. A.
  • Breen, S. L.
  • Lovell, J. E. J.
Publication Date
Jan 26, 2012
Submission Date
Jan 26, 2012
DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/747/1/L7
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We have used the Australia Telescope Compact Array to measure the absorption from the 2(0) - 3(-1}E 12.2 GHz transition of methanol towards the z=0.89 lensing galaxy in the PKS B 1830-211 gravitational lens system. Comparison of the velocity of the main absorption feature with the published absorption spectrum from the 1(0) - 2(-1)E transition of methanol shows that they differ by -0.6 +/- 1.6 km/s . We can use these observations to constrain the changes in the proton-to-electron mass ratio from z=0.89 to the present to 0.8 +/- 2.1 x 10^-7. This result is consistent, and of similar precision to recent observations at z = 0.68 achieved through comparison of a variety of rotational and inversion transitions, and approximately a factor of 2 better than previous constraints obtained in this source. Future more sensitive observations which incorporate additional rotational methanol transitions offer the prospect of improving current results by a factor of 5-10.

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