How stable is the photon?

Constraints on photon mass m and lifetime τγ from the CMB spectrum

Constraints on photon mass m and lifetime τγ from the CMB spectrum

Julian Heeck
Yes, the photon. While a nonzero photon mass has been under experimental and theoretical study for years, the possible implication of a finite photon lifetime lacks discussion.
The tight experimental upper bound of the photon mass restricts the kinematically allowed final states of photon decay to the lightest neutrino and/or particles beyond the Standard Model.
We discuss the modifications of the well-measured cosmic microwave background spectrum of free streaming photons due to photon mass and lifetime and obtain model-independent constraints on both parameters—most importantly a lower direct bound of 3 yr on the photon lifetime, should the photon mass be at its conservative upper limit.
In that case, the lifetime of microwave photons will be time-dilated by a factor order 1015.
Read more at http://arxiv.org/pdf/1304.2821v2.pdf

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