by Abhay Ashtekar and Brajesh Gupt.
Quantum gravity effects in the very early Universe can leave observable imprints.
Abhay Ashtekar (picture taken as a postdoc at Oxford University) is the Eberly Professor of Physics and the Director of the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos at the Pennsylvania State University.
The inflationary paradigm traces the genesis of the large-scale structure of the cosmos to astonishingly early times. However, at the onset of inflation spacetime curvature is only about 10-14 times the Planck curvature where quantum gravity effects dominate. Therefore, it is natural to ask if the earlier, pre-inflationary phase of dynamics would change observable predictions of standard inflation. The answer is often assumed to be in the negative. Our CQG paper shows that this conclusion is premature. Specifically, in Loop Quantum Cosmology (LQC) there is an unforeseen interplay between the ultraviolet effects that tame the big bang singularity, and dynamics of infrared modes of cosmological perturbations. As a result, imprints of the quantum spacetime geometry in the Planck regime can manifest themselves at the largest angular scales in the CMB.
In LQC, quantum geometry effects dominate in the Planck regime, replacing the big bang by a quantum bounce, where scalar curvature reaches its finite and universal upper bound. Therefore the radius of curvature has a non-zero lower bound, . Over the last 7 years, techniques have been developed to describe dynamics of the cosmological perturbations on this quantum background geometry, thereby facing the trans-Planckian issues squarely. Standard inflation assumes Continue reading
Written by Piret Kuusk, Mihkel Rünkla, Margus Saal, Ott Vilson, researchers from the Institute of Physics at the University of Tartu, Estonia.
The authors in front of the building of the Institute of Physics, University of Tartu, Estonia: doctoral students Mihkel Rünkla (far left), Ott Vilson (far right), senior researcher Margus Saal (center left), head of the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics Piret Kuusk (center right).
Working in the field of cosmology one deals casually with modified gravity. Modifications can be small or large. Sometimes a small modification of the theory could cause a large effect. It is also possible that large modifications do not affect the predictions of the theory at all. The concept of cosmological inflation can probably illustrate both of these situations somehow. Adding a short period of inflation to the evolution of early universe seems as a small modification of the theory. This modification in turn has a large effect as it solves the horizon and flatness problems. In the simplest case inflation is driven by an additional scalar field with a suitable self-interaction potential. During inflation potential dominates over the kinetic term of the scalar field giving rise to a slow roll. Dealing with slow-roll inflation can illustrate the second aforementioned situation: slow-roll can be incorporated in different theoretical frameworks not affecting the universal predictions of slow-roll.
Although the predictions of slow-roll inflation are in some sense universal, the observational data can still invalidate some specific models. One can read sentences as “minimally coupled inflation is ruled out”, which invite us to consider Continue reading