Physicists search for new physics in primordial quantum fluctuations

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The evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the present. Quantum fluctuations that arise during inflation develop into the inhomogeneities that lead to the formation of stars and galaxies. Image credit: NASA

Inflation, the brief period that occurred less than a second after the Big Bang, is nearly as difficult to fathom as the Big Bang itself. Physicists calculate that inflation lasted for just a tiny fraction of a second, yet during this time the Universe grew in size by a factor of 1078. Also during this time, a very important thing occurred: fluctuations in the quantum vacuum appeared, which later resulted in the temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) that in turn produced large-scale structures such as galaxies. But in a new study, physicists now think that their understanding of the features of primordial quantum fluctuations – also called the inflationary power spectrum – may require a few small corrections due to currently unknown physics. These new corrections could allow scientists to search for experimental evidence to test a variety of quantum gravity theories, including string theory.
Theoretical physicists Mark G. Jackson of the University of Paris-7 Diderot in Paris, France, and Koenraad Schalm of the University of Leiden in Leiden, The Netherlands, have published their study on these possible signatures of new physics in the inflationary power spectrum in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters…..

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Written by physicsgg

March 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm


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