Vacuum energy changes during cosmological phase transitions and becomes relatively important at epochs just before phase transitions. For a viable cosmology the vacuum energy just after a phase transition must be set by the critical temperature of the next phase transition, which exposes the cosmological constant problem from a different angle. Here we propose to experimentally test the properties of vacuum energy under circumstances different from our current vacuum. One promising avenue is to consider the effect of high density phases of QCD in neutron stars. Such phases have different vacuum expectation values and a different vacuum energy from the normal phase, which can contribute an order one fraction to the mass of neutron stars. Precise observations of the mass of neutron stars can potentially yield information about the gravitational properties of vacuum energy, which can significantly affect their mass-radius relation. A more direct test of cosmic evolution of vacuum energy could be inferred from a precise observation of the primordial gravitational wave spectrum at frequencies corresponding to phase transitions. While traditional cosmology predicts steps in the spectrum determined by the number of degrees of freedom both for the QCD and electroweak phase transitions, an adjustment mechanism for vacuum energy could significantly change this. In addition, there might be other phase transitions where the effect of vacuum energy could show up as a peak in the spectrum.
- Beyond Standard Model
- Cosmology of Theories beyond the SM
- Quark Masses and SM Parameters
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics