A group of researchers from several French universities and other scientific institutions found a new way to clarify the value for the upper limit of the graviton mass. This method is based on accurate measurements of several parameters from large cosmic bodies, such as stars and giant gas planets. Thereby scientists are able to try what was almost impossible to do with any available methods.
According to Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, a theoretically weightless elementary particle called graviton is involved in the process of mass formation in huge cosmic bodies that deform the space-time continuum in adjacent space by gravity. Scientists for many years with varying degrees of success have “broken their spears,” proving or disproving the fact that gravitons have their own mass.
One method used by scientists in the past was based on data from the study of the expansion rate of the Universe. According to the results of this method, the graviton has a mass, a small one, at the level of 10 ^ -32 electron volts. Unfortunately, these results were based on a large number of assumptions and assumptions, some of which are still considered controversial.
The second method for determining the graviton mass is to study small deviations in the orbits where fairly massive cosmic bodies move. These deviations can be caused by the presence of a non-zero mass of the graviton, however, if the graviton has a zero rest mass, then gravitons must move at a speed close to the speed of light in order to have a noticeable effect on the world.
It was this second method that the French scientists adopted, finding a way to improve its accuracy. Scientists use data in which the “frozen” position of certain stars and planets appears at certain points in time. The first time points of such a “freeze” begin in 2000. Based on these initial data, scientists calculated the values of mass, speed, and position in space of the Sun, some planets and large asteroids.
Then, on the basis of several fundamental equations, computer mathematical models were created that calculated the movement of all analyzed objects forward in time, until 2017, and back until 1913. These time limits were not chosen by chance; scientists were able to find in the total mass of astronomical data sufficiently detailed and reliable data about cosmic bodies of interest to them at that time.
Having carried out calculations for deviations of the real cosmic bodies orbits from theoretical ones, the scientists calculated a new value for the upper limit of the graviton mass, which has now become 6.76×10 ^ -23 with a probability of about 90 percent.
Researchers note that their value is very close to the value obtained by scientists working at the LIGO gravitational observatory and studying gravitational waves. This gives hope in the reliability of the results but does not yet exclude the possibility that such a coincidence is simply an accident.