Constraints on the size of extra dimensions from the orbital evolution of black-hole X-ray binaries

Tim Johannsen, Dimitrios Psaltis, Jeffrey E. McClintock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


One of the plausible unification schemes in physics considers the observable universe to be a four-dimensional surface (the "brane") embedded in a higher dimensional curved spacetime (the "bulk"). In such braneworld gravity models with infinitely large extra dimensions, black holes evaporate fast through the emission of the additional gravitational degrees of freedom, resulting in lifetimes of stellar-mass black holes that are significantly smaller than the Hubble time. We show that the predicted evaporation rate leads to a change in the orbital period of X-ray binaries harboring black holes that is observable with current instruments. We obtain an upper limit on the rate of change of the orbital period of the binary A0620-00 and use it to constrain the asymptotic curvature radius of the extra dimension to a value comparable to the one obtained by table-top experiments. Furthermore, we argue that any measurement of a period increase for low-mass X-ray binaries with a high mass ratio is evidence for new physics beyond general relativity and the standard model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)997-1004
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009


  • X-rays: binaries
  • X-rays: stars
  • black hole physics
  • gravitation
  • stars: individual (A0620-00)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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