Relic topological defects from brane annihilation simulated in superfluid 3He

Physics

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Scientific paper

Although it is widely accepted that to resolve the `horizon' problem the early Universe must have undergone a sudden expansion (cosmic inflation), what mechanism drove this process is less clear. In the braneworld scenario, it is suggested that inflationary epochs may have been initiated and terminated by brane collisions and annihilations. Branes are objects of lower dimensionality embedded in a higher-dimensional matrix. For example, we may live on a three-dimensional brane embedded in a four-dimensional matrix. However, such structures are so far removed from everyday reality that bringing physical insight to bear is difficult. Here we report laboratory experiments where we simulate brane annihilation using the closest brane analogue to which we have access, the coherent phase boundary between the two phases of superfluid 3He. When two branes collide or annihilate, topological defects may be created, whose influence may still be detectable today. By creating a brane-antibrane pair in superfluid 3He and subsequently annihilating it, we can detect that defects are indeed created in the superfluid texture (the superfluid analogue of spacetime), thus confirming that the concept of defect formation after brane annihilation in the early Universe can be reproduced in analogous systems in the laboratory.

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