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Damping of gravitational waves by matter
Stockholm University, Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (Nordita). University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Number of Authors: 3
2017 (English)In: Physical Review D: covering particles, fields, gravitation, and cosmology, ISSN 2470-0010, E-ISSN 2470-0029, Vol. 96, no 8, 084033Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We develop a unified description, via the Boltzmann equation, of damping of gravitational waves by matter, incorporating collisions. We identify two physically distinct damping mechanisms-collisional and Landau damping. We first consider damping in flat spacetime, and then generalize the results to allow for cosmological expansion. In the first regime, maximal collisional damping of a gravitational wave, independent of the details of the collisions in the matter is, as we show, significant only when its wavelength is comparable to the size of the horizon. Thus damping by intergalactic or interstellar matter for all but primordial gravitational radiation can be neglected. Although collisions in matter lead to a shear viscosity, they also act to erase anisotropic stresses, thus suppressing the damping of gravitational waves. Damping of primordial gravitational waves remains possible. We generalize Weinberg's calculation of gravitational wave damping, now including collisions and particles of finite mass, and interpret the collisionless limit in terms of Landau damping. While Landau damping of gravitational waves cannot occur in flat spacetime, the expansion of the universe allows such damping by spreading the frequency of a gravitational wave of given wave vector.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 96, no 8, 084033
National Category
Physical Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-149007DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.96.084033ISI: 000412992100013OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-149007DiVA: diva2:1159360
Available from: 2017-11-22 Created: 2017-11-22 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved

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Pethick, Christopher J.
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