Equivalence Principle Implications of Modified Gravity Models

Hui, Lam
Nicolis, Alberto
Stubbs, Christopher
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Theories that attempt to explain the observed cosmic acceleration by modifying general relativity all introduce a new scalar degree of freedom that is active on large scales, but is screened on small scales to match experiments. We show that if such screening occurrs via the chameleon mechanism such as in f(R), it is possible to have order one violation of the equivalence principle, despite the absence of explicit violation in the microscopic action. Namely, extended objects such as galaxies or constituents thereof do not all fall at the same rate. The chameleon mechanism can screen the scalar charge for large objects but not for small ones (large/small is defined by the gravitational potential and controlled by the scalar coupling). This leads to order one fluctuations in the inertial to gravitational mass ratio. In Jordan frame, it is no longer true that all objects move on geodesics. In contrast, if the scalar screening occurrs via strong coupling, such as in the DGP braneworld model, equivalence principle violation occurrs at a much reduced level. We propose several observational tests of the chameleon mechanism: 1. small galaxies should fall faster than large galaxies, even when dynamical friction is negligible; 2. voids defined by small galaxies would be larger compared to standard expectations; 3. stars and diffuse gas in small galaxies should have different velocities, even on the same orbits; 4. lensing and dynamical mass estimates should agree for large galaxies but disagree for small ones. We discuss possible pitfalls in some of these tests. The cleanest is the third one where mass estimate from HI rotational velocity could exceed that from stars by 30 % or more. To avoid blanket screening of all objects, the most promising place to look is in voids.
Comment: 27 pages, 4 figures, minor revisions, references added. Accepted for publication in Phys. Rev. D
Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics, Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies, Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena, General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology, High Energy Physics - Theory