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)
Issue number03
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Breaking a dark degeneracy with gravitational waves'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this