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Primordial gravitational waves, precisely: The role of thermodynamics in the Standard Model

MPS-Authors

Saikawa,  Ken'ichi
Max Planck Institute for Physics, Max Planck Society and Cooperation Partners;

Shirai,  Satoshi
Max Planck Institute for Physics, Max Planck Society and Cooperation Partners;

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Saikawa, K., & Shirai, S. (2018). Primordial gravitational waves, precisely: The role of thermodynamics in the Standard Model. Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, (1805), 035. Retrieved from https://publications.mppmu.mpg.de/?action=search&mpi=MPP-2018-19.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-F85F-C
Abstract
In this paper, we revisit the estimation of the spectrum of primordial gravitational waves originated from inflation, particularly focusing on the effect of thermodynamics in the Standard Model of particle physics. By collecting recent results of perturbative and non-perturbative analysis of thermodynamic quantities in the Standard Model, we obtain the effective degrees of freedom including the corrections due to non-trivial interaction properties of particles in the Standard Model for a wide temperature interval. The impact of such corrections on the spectrum of primordial gravitational waves as well as the damping effect due to free-streaming particles is investigated by numerically solving the evolution equation of tensor perturbations in the expanding universe. It is shown that the reevaluation of the effects of free-streaming photons and neutrinos gives rise to some additional damping features overlooked in previous studies. We also observe that the continuous nature of the QCD crossover results in a smooth spectrum for modes that reenter the horizon at around the epoch of the QCD phase transition. Furthermore, we explicitly show that the values of the effective degrees of freedom remain smaller than the commonly used value 106.75 even at temperature much higher than the critical temperature of the electroweak crossover, and that the amplitude of primordial gravitational waves at a frequency range relevant to direct detection experiments becomes $\mathcal{O}(1)\,\%$ larger than previous estimates that do not include such corrections. This effect can be relevant to future high-sensitivity gravitational wave experiments such as ultimate DECIGO. Our results on the temperature evolution of the effective degrees of freedom are made available as tabulated data and fitting functions, which can also be used in the analysis of other cosmological relics.