[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A spatially flat Robertson-Walker spacetime driven by a cosmological constant is nonconformally coupled to a massless scalar field. The equations of semiclassical gravity are explicitly solved for this case, and a self-consistent de Sitter solution associated with the Bunch-Davies vacuum state is found (the effect of the quantum field is to shift slightly the effective cosmological constant). Furthermore, it is shown that the corrected de Sitter spacetime is stable under spatially isotropic perturbations of the metric and the quantum state. These results are independent of the free renormalization parameters.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In inflationary cosmological models driven by an inflaton field the origin of the primordial inhomogeneities which are responsible for large-scale structure formation are the quantum fluctuations of the inflaton field. These are usually calculated using the standard theory of cosmological perturbations, where both the gravitational and the inflaton fields are linearly perturbed and quantized. The correlation functions for the primordial metric fluctuations and their power spectrum are then computed. Here we introduce an alternative procedure for calculating the metric correlations based on the Einstein-Langevin equation which emerges in the framework of stochastic semiclassical gravity. We show that the correlation functions for the metric perturbations that follow from the Einstein-Langevin formalism coincide with those obtained with the usual quantization procedures when the scalar field perturbations are linearized. This method is explicitly applied to a simple model of chaotic inflation consisting of a Robertson-Walker background, which undergoes a quasi-de Sitter expansion, minimally coupled to a free massive quantum scalar field. The technique based on the Einstein-Langevin equation can, however, deal naturally with the perturbations of the scalar field even beyond the linear approximation, as is actually required in inflationary models which are not driven by an inflaton field, such as Starobinsky¿s trace-anomaly driven inflation or when calculating corrections due to nonlinear quantum effects in the usual inflaton driven models.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We study the contribution to vacuum decay in field theory due to the interaction between the long- and short-wavelength modes of the field. The field model considered consists of a scalar field of mass M with a cubic term in the potential. The dynamics of the long-wavelength modes becomes diffusive in this interaction. The diffusive behavior is described by the reduced Wigner function that characterizes the state of the long-wavelength modes. This function is obtained from the whole Wigner function by integration of the degrees of freedom of the short-wavelength modes. The dynamical equation for the reduced Wigner function becomes a kind of Fokker-Planck equation which is solved with suitable boundary conditions enforcing an initial metastable vacuum state trapped in the potential well. As a result a finite activation rate is found, even at zero temperature, for the formation of true vacuum bubbles of size M-1. This effect makes a substantial contribution to the total decay rate.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The semiclassical Einstein-Langevin equations which describe the dynamics of stochastic perturbations of the metric induced by quantum stress-energy fluctuations of matter fields in a given state are considered on the background of the ground state of semiclassical gravity, namely, Minkowski spacetime and a scalar field in its vacuum state. The relevant equations are explicitly derived for massless and massive fields arbitrarily coupled to the curvature. In doing so, some semiclassical results, such as the expectation value of the stress-energy tensor to linear order in the metric perturbations and particle creation effects, are obtained. We then solve the equations and compute the two-point correlation functions for the linearized Einstein tensor and for the metric perturbations. In the conformal field case, explicit results are obtained. These results hint that gravitational fluctuations in stochastic semiclassical gravity have a non-perturbative behavior in some characteristic correlation lengths.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A semiclassical cosmological model is considered which consists of a closed Friedmann-Robertson-Walker spacetime in the presence of a cosmological constant, which mimics the effect of an inflaton field, and a massless, non-conformally coupled quantum scalar field. We show that the back-reaction of the quantum field, which consists basically of a nonlocal term due to gravitational particle creation and a noise term induced by the quantum fluctuations of the field, are able to drive the cosmological scale factor over the barrier of the classical potential so that if the universe starts near a zero scale factor (initial singularity), it can make the transition to an exponentially expanding de Sitter phase. We compute the probability of this transition and it turns out to be comparable with the probability that the universe tunnels from ``nothing'' into an inflationary stage in quantum cosmology. This suggests that in the presence of matter fields the back-reaction on the spacetime should not be neglected in quantum cosmology.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We compute the influence action for a system perturbatively coupled to a linear scalar field acting as the environment. Subtleties related to divergences that appear when summing over all the modes are made explicit and clarified. Being closely connected with models used in the literature, we show how to completely reconcile the results obtained in the context of stochastic semiclassical gravity when using mode decomposition with those obtained by other standard functional techniques.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We consider the classical stochastic fluctuations of spacetime geometry induced by quantum fluctuations of massless nonconformal matter fields in the early Universe. To this end, we supplement the stress-energy tensor of these fields with a stochastic part, which is computed along the lines of the Feynman-Vernon and Schwinger-Keldysh techniques; the Einstein equation is therefore upgraded to a so-called Einstein-Langevin equation. We consider in some detail the conformal fluctuations of flat spacetime and the fluctuations of the scale factor in a simple cosmological model introduced by Hartle, which consists of a spatially flat isotropic cosmology driven by radiation and dust.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Semiclassical Einstein-Langevin equations for arbitrary small metric perturbations conformally coupled to a massless quantum scalar field in a spatially flat cosmological background are derived. Use is made of the fact that for this problem the in-in or closed time path effective action is simply related to the Feynman-Vernon influence functional which describes the effect of the ``environment,'' the quantum field which is coarse grained here, on the ``system,'' the gravitational field which is the field of interest. This leads to identify the dissipation and noise kernels in the in-in effective action, and to derive a fluctuation-dissipation relation. A tensorial Gaussian stochastic source which couples to the Weyl tensor of the spacetime metric is seen to modify the usual semiclassical equations which can be veiwed now as mean field equsations. As a simple application we derive the correlation functions of the stochastic metric fluctuations produced in a flat spacetime with small metric perturbations due to the quantum fluctuations of the matter field coupled to these perturbations.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We derive the back reaction on the gravitational field of a straight cosmic string during its formation due to the gravitational coupling of the string to quantum matter fields. A very simple model of string formation is considered. The gravitational field of the string is computed in the linear approximation. The vacuum expectation value of the stress tensor of a massless scalar quantum field coupled to the string gravitational field is computed to one loop order. Finally, the back-reaction effect is obtained by solving perturbatively the semiclassical Einsteins equations.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the first part of this paper, we show that the semiclassical Einstein-Langevin equation, introduced in the framework of a stochastic generalization of semiclassical gravity to describe the back reaction of matter stress-energy fluctuations, can be formally derived from a functional method based on the influence functional of Feynman and Vernon. In the second part, we derive a number of results for background solutions of semiclassical gravity consisting of stationary and conformally stationary spacetimes and scalar fields in thermal equilibrium states. For these cases, fluctuation-dissipation relations are derived. We also show that particle creation is related to the vacuum stress-energy fluctuations and that it is enhanced by the presence of stochastic metric fluctuations.