A particularly attractive feature of inflation is that quantum fluctuations in the inflaton field may have seeded inhomogeneities in the cosmic microwavebackground (CMB) and the formation of large-scale structure. In this paper, we demonstrate that a scalar field with zero active mass, i.e. with an equation of state p + 3p = 0, where p and p are its energy density and pressure, respectively, could also have produced an essentially scale-free fluctuation spectrum, though without inflation. This alternative mechanism is based on the Hollands-Wald concept of a minimum wavelength for the emergence of quantum fluctuations into the semi-classical universe. A cosmology with zero active mass does not have a horizon problem, so it does not need inflation to solve this particular (non) issue. In this picture, the 1°-10° fluctuations in the CMB correspond almost exactly to the Planck length at the Planck time, firmly supporting the view that CMB observations may already be probing trans-Planckian physics.
- cosmic perturbations
- early universe
- quantum fluctuations
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)