Researchers have found a new approach to exploring the dynamics of the earliest universe with gravitational waves


May 11, 2023

(Nanowerk News) Researchers have discovered a new generic production mechanism of gravitational waves generated by phenomena known as oscillons, which can stem from many cosmological theories from the fragmentation into solitonic “blobs” of inflationary fields that drove the rapid expansion of the early universe, reports a new study that published in Physical Review Letter (“Enhanced gravity waves from inflationary oscillations”).

The results have set the stage for uncovering exciting new insights into the early moments of the Universe. Schematic of the fragmented inflation field into oscillons, with gravitational waves superimposed on them Schematic of the fragmented inflation field into oscillons, with gravitational waves superimposed on them. (Image: Kavli IPMU, Volodymyr Takhistov)

The period of inflation, which occurred right after the Big Bang, is believed to have caused the Universe to expand exponentially. In many cosmological theories, a period of rapid expansion is followed by the formation of oscillons. Oscillons are a type of localized non-linear massive structure that can form from fields, such as inflation fields, that oscillate at high frequencies. These structures can persist for a long time, and as the researchers found, their eventual decay can generate large amounts of gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time.

In their study, Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) Project Researcher Kaloian D. Lozanov, and Kavli IPMU Visiting Associate Scientist, International Center for Quantum-field Measurement Systems for Studies of the Universe and Particles (QUP) Senior Scientist, and Assistant to the High Energy Accelerator Organization Theory (KEK) Center Professor Volodymyr Takhistov, simulated the evolution of inflationary fields during the early universe and found that oscillons did exist. They later discovered that the oscillon decay was capable of producing gravitational waves that could be detected by a future gravitational wave observatory.

The findings provide a new test of the dynamics of the early universe independent of the conventionally studied cosmic microwave background radiation. The discovery of these gravitational waves will establish a new window into the universe’s earliest moments, and could help shed light on some of the most pressing fundamental questions in cosmology.

With the continued development of gravitational wave detectors and the resources of supercomputers, we can expect to gain more and more insights into the universe’s early moments in the years to come. Overall, this new study demonstrates the power of combining theoretical models with advanced computational techniques and observations to uncover new insights about the evolution of the Universe.


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