Breaking a dark degeneracy with gravitational waves

Lucas Lombriser, Andy Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We identify a scalar-tensor model embedded in the Horndeski action whose cosmological background and linear scalar fluctuations are degenerate with the concordance cosmology. The model admits a self-accelerated background expansion at late times that is stable against perturbations with a sound speed attributed to the new field that is equal to the speed of light. While degenerate in scalar fluctuations, self-acceleration of the model implies a present cosmological tensor mode propagation at lesssim95 % of the speed of light with a damping of the wave amplitude that is gsim5 % less efficient than in general relativity. We show that these discrepancies are endemic to self-accelerated Horndeski theories with degenerate large-scale structure and are tested with measurements of gravitational waves emitted by events at cosmological distances. Hence, gravitational-wave cosmology breaks the dark degeneracy in observations of the large-scale structure between two fundamentally different explanations of cosmic acceleration—a cosmological constant and a scalar-tensor modification of gravity. The gravitational wave event GW150914 recently detected with the aLIGO instruments and its potential association with a weak short gamma-ray burst observed with the Fermi GBM experiment may have provided this crucial measurement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number031
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (JCAP)
Volume2016
Issue number03
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2016

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