Abstract: |
The radiation-dominated universe is a key component of standard Big Bang cosmology. Radiation comprises numerous quantum elementary particles, and its macroscopic behavior is described by taking the quantum thermal average of its constituents. The dynamics of gravitational waves are considered in this smooth fluid. While interactions between individual particles and gravitational waves are often neglected in this context, it raises the question of whether such a hydrodynamical approximation is reasonable. To address this question, we explored the quantum mechanical aspects of gravitational waves in a universe dominated by a massless scalar field, whose averaged energy-momentum tensor serves as background radiation. We computed thermal loop corrections for the gravitational wave power spectrum using the Schwinger-Keldysh formalism. Interestingly, we found that the loop effect enhances the super-horizon primordial gravitational wave spectrum, indicating that the inflationary spectrum is not conserved, contrary to conventional wisdom. These findings have significant implications for our understanding of the early universe. In this talk, I will begin with the basics of cosmology and explain the significance of these results and their relevant observational consequences. |