Europhys. Lett.
Volume 63, Number 5, September 2003
Page(s) 653 - 659
Section General
Published online 01 November 2003
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2003-00587-x
Europhys. Lett., 63 (5) , pp. 653-659 (2003)

The Pioneer riddle, the quantum vacuum and the variation of the light velocity

A. F. Rañada

Departamento de Física Aplicada III, Universidad Complutense 28040 Madrid, Spain

(Received 13 November 2002; accepted in final form 27 June 2003)

It is shown that the same phenomenological Newtonian model recently proposed, which accounts for the cosmological evolution of the fine-structure constant, suggests furthermore an explanation of the unmodelled acceleration $a_{\ab{P}}\simeq
8.5\times 10^{-10}\un{m/s^2}$ of the Pioneer 10/11 spaceships reported by Anderson et al. in 1998. In the view presented here, the permittivity and permeability of the empty space are decreasing adiabatically, and the light is accelerating therefore, as a consequence of the progressive attenuation of the quantum vacuum due to the combined effect of its gravitational interaction with all the expanding universe and the fourth Heisenberg relation. It is argued that the spaceships might not have any extra acceleration (but would follow instead the unchanged Newton laws), the observed effect being due to an adiabatic acceleration of the light equal to $a_{\ab{P}}$, which has the same observational radio signature as the anomalous acceleration of the Pioneers.

04.80.Cc - Experimental tests of gravitational theories.
95.35.+d - Dark matter (stellar, interstellar, galactic, and cosmological).
95.55.Pe - Lunar, planetary, and deep-space probes.

© EDP Sciences 2003