Photons with sub-Planckian energy cannot efficiently probe space-time foam

Y. Chen, Linqing Wen, Yiqiu Ma

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    © 2014 American Physical Society. Extra-galactic sources of photons have been used to constrain space-time quantum fluctuations in the Universe. In these proposals, the fundamental "fuzziness" of distance caused by space-time quantum fluctuations has been directly identified with fluctuations in optical paths. Phase-front corrugations deduced from these optical-path fluctuations are then applied to light from extra-galactic point sources, and used to constrain various models of quantum gravity. However, when a photon propagates in three spatial dimensions, it does not follow a specific ray, but rather samples a finite, three-dimensional region around that ray - thereby averaging over space-time quantum fluctuations all through that region. We use a simple, random-walk type model to demonstrate that, once the appropriate wave optics is applied, the averaging of neighboring space-time fluctuations will cause much less distortion to the phase front. In our model, the extra suppression factor due to diffraction is the wave length in units of the Planck length, which is at least 1029 for astronomical observations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number063011
    Number of pages6
    JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
    Volume90
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Sep 2014

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