We treat a model in which tensor perturbations of de Sitter spacetime, represented as a spatially flat model, are modified by the effects of the vacuum fluctuations of a massless conformally invariant field, such as the electromagnetic field. We use the semiclassical theory of gravity with the expectation value of the conformal field stress tensor as a source. We first study the stability of de Sitter spacetime by searching for growing, spatially homogeneous modes, and conclude that it is stable within the limits of validity of the semiclassical theory. We next examine the modification of linearized plane gravity waves by the effects of the quantum stress tensor. We find a correction term which is of the same form as the original wave, but displaced in phase by π/2, and with an amplitude which depends upon an initial time. The magnitude of this effect is proportional to the change in scale factor after this time. We discuss alternative interpretations of this time, but pay particular attention to the view that this is the beginning of inflation. So long as the energy scale of inflation and the proper frequency of the mode at the beginning of inflation are well below the Planck scale, the fractional correction is small. However, modes which are trans-Planckian at the onset of inflation can undergo a significant correction. The increase in amplitude can potentially have observable consequences through a modification of the power spectrum of tensor perturbations in inflationary cosmology. This enhancement of the power spectrum depends upon the initial time, and is greater for shorter wavelengths.
|Journal||Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology|
|State||Published - 15 Apr 2011|