Methanol Detected In Distant Galaxy Helps Determine Ratio of Proton's Mass to Electron

A fundamental constant of nature


Radio-astronomical observations of a distant galaxy indicate that the ratio of the proton's mass to that of the electron has hardly changed over cosmic history.

This fundamental constant of nature has changed by 10-7 or less, equivalent to a maximum of one hundred thousandth of a percent, in the past 7 billion years. Scientists from VU University Amsterdam and the Max-Planck-Institut fur Radioastronomie (MPIfR) used the Effelsberg 100-m radio telescope to obtain accurate measurements of methanol absorption at several characteristic frequencies.