Regular Article – Theoretical Physics
Unavoidable shear from quantum fluctuations in contracting cosmologies
Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, 91405, Orsay, France
2 Laboratoire Astroparticule et Cosmologie, CNRS, Université de Paris, 75013, Paris, France
Accepted: 30 January 2021
Published online: 6 February 2021
Contracting cosmologies are known to be flawed with a shear instability, where the contribution from the anisotropic stress to the overall energy density grows as , with a the scale factor. Classically, whether or not this contribution becomes important before the bounce depends on its initial value, which can always be sufficiently fine tuned to make it irrelevant. However, vacuum quantum fluctuations inevitably provide a non-vanishing source of anisotropic stress. In this work, we compute the minimum amount of shear that is obtained if one assumes that it vanishes initially, but lets quantum fluctuations build it up. In practice, we consider a massless test scalar field, and describe its quantum fluctuations by means of the stochastic “inflation” (though here applied to a contracting phase) formalism. We find that, if the equation-of-state parameter of the contraction satisfies , regardless of when the contracting phase is initiated, the time at which the shear becomes sizeable is always when the Hubble scale approaches the Planck mass (which is also where the bounce is expected to take place). However, if , the shear backreaction becomes important much earlier, at a point that depends on the overall amount of contraction.
© The Author(s) 2021
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