University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
Formation of structure in dark energy cosmologies
Doctoral dissertation, November 2006.
Acceleration of the universe has been established but not explained. During the past few years precise cosmological experiments have confirmed the standard big bang scenario of a flat universe undergoing an inflationary expansion in its earliest stages, where the perturbations are generated that eventually form into galaxies and other structure in matter, most of which is non-baryonic dark matter. Curiously, the universe has presently entered into another period of acceleration. Such a result is inferred from observations of extra-galactic supernovae and is independently supported by the cosmic microwave background radiation and large scale structure data. It seems there is a positive cosmological constant speeding up the universal expansion of space. Then the vacuum energy density the constant describes should be about a dozen times the present energy density in visible matter, but particle physics scales are enormously larger than that. This is the cosmological constant problem, perhaps the greatest mystery of contemporary cosmology.
In this thesis we will explore alternative agents of the acceleration. Generically, such are called dark energy. If some symmetry turns off vacuum energy, its value is not a problem but one needs some dark energy. Such could be a scalar field dynamically evolving in its potential, or some other exotic constituent exhibiting negative pressure. Another option is to assume that gravity at cosmological scales is not well described by general relativity. In a modified theory of gravity one might find the expansion rate increasing in a universe filled by just dark matter and baryons. Such possibilities are taken here under investigation. The main goal is to uncover observational consequences of different models of dark energy, the emphasis being on their implications for the formation of large-scale structure of the universe. Possible properties of dark energy are investigated using phenomenological paramaterizations, but several specific models are also considered in detail. Difficulties in unifying dark matter and dark energy into a single concept are pointed out. Considerable attention is on modifications of gravity resulting in second order field equations. It is shown that in a general class of such models the viable ones represent effectively the cosmological constant, while from another class one might find interesting modifications of the standard cosmological scenario yet allowed by observations.
The thesis consists of seven research papers preceded by an introductory discussion.
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Last updated 16.10.2006