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Snippets of Physics
15. Hubble Expansion for Pedestrians

T Padmanabhan

M a n y fe a tu r e s o f th e e x p a n d in g u n iv e r se , w h ic h
sh o u ld b e le g itim a te ly d isc u sse d u sin g g e n e r a l
r e la tiv ity , c a n b e sn e a k e d in b y u sin g N e w to n ia n
p h y sic s in a n e x p a n d in g c o o r d in a te sy ste m . In
th is sp e c ia l issu e o n H u b b le , I d e sc r ib e s e v e r a l o f
th e se fe a tu r e s a lo n g w ith so m e c a u tio n a r y c o m - T Padmanabhan works at
m e n ts. IUCAA, Pune and is
interested in all areas
S in ce th e la rg e-sca le d y n a m ics o f th e u n iv erse is essen - of theoretical physics,
tia lly g ov ern ed b y g rav ity, a n y th eo retica l m o d el fo r especially those which
have something to do with
g rav ity w ill h av e im p lica tio n s fo r th e la rg e-sca le p h y sics
gravity.
o f th e u n iv erse. T h is w a s k n ow n , o f co u rse, ev en to N ew -
to n w h o d id a ttem p t to d escrib e th e u n iv erse u sin g h is
id ea s o f g rav ity. W e n ow k n ow , h ow ev er, th a t th e p ro p er
d escrip tio n o f g rav ity sh o u ld b e b a sed o n E in stein 's g en -
era l rela tiv ity ra th er th a n o n N ew to n ia n id ea s.
It w a s m en tio n ed in a p rev io u s in sta llm en t th a t th e d e-
scrip tio n o f g rav ity in E in stein 's th eo ry is b a sed o n th e
n o tio n o f cu rv ed sp a cetim e. In th e ca se o f th e u n iv erse,
th is w ill in v o lv e trea tin g it a s a cu rv ed sp a cetim e w ith a
g eo m etry d eterm in ed b y th e d istrib u tio n o f m a tter. T h e
sim p lest o f su ch m o d els trea ts th e d istrib u tio n o f m a tter
in th e u n iv erse a s u n ifo rm a n d iso tro p ic (a t su ± cien tly
la rg e sca les) a n d tries to u n d ersta n d th e p ro p erties o f
th e cu rv ed sp a cetim e p ro d u ced b y su ch a m a tter d is-
trib u tio n . W h ile a ll th ese m ig h t so u n d co m p lica ted , a
su rp risin g fea tu re a b o u t su ch a m o d el o f th e u n iv erse
is th a t m u ch o f its d y n a m ics ca n b e u n d ersto o d fa irly
ea sily { w ith o u t in tro d u cin g co m p lica ted n o tio n s fro m
g en era l rela tiv ity. N eed less to say, su ch a n a p p ro a ch is Keywords
¯ lled w ith p itfa lls a n d o n e n eed s to co n sta n tly v erify Cosmology, expansion of the
th a t o n e is n o t g ettin g ca rried aw ay b y th e sim p lify in g universe, structure formation.

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SERIES ⎜ ARTICLE

It is not possible to ° av o u r o f N ew to n ia n p h y sics. In th is in sta llm en t, I w ill


introduce a set of
d escrib e h ow th ese id ea s w o rk .
coordinates on the T h e d i® eren ce b etw een a ° a t sp a ce a n d a cu rv ed sp a ce
surface of a sphere ca n b e en co d ed in th e g en era liza tio n o f P y th a g o ra s th e-
such that the 'line o rem fo r in ¯ n itesim a lly sep a ra ted p o in ts. F o r ex a m p le,
interval' reduces to the a ° a t 2 -d im en sio n a l su rfa ce (say, a p la in sh eet o f p a p er)
Pythagorean form. a llow s u s to in tro d u ce sta n d a rd C a rtesia n co o rd in a tes
This is the difference (x ;y ) su ch th a t th e d ista n ce b etw een in ¯ n itesim a lly sep -
between curved and a ra ted p o in ts ca n b e ex p ressed in th e fo rm d l2 = d x 2 +
flat space. d y 2 w h ich , o f co u rse, is ju st th e sta n d a rd P y th a g o ra s
th eo rem . In co n tra st, co n sid er th e tw o -d im en sio n a l su r-
fa ce o n a sp h ere o f ra d iu s r o n w h ich w e h av e in tro d u ced
tw o a n g u la r co o rd in a tes (µ ;Á ). T h e co rresp o n d in g fo r-
m u la w ill n ow rea d d l2 = r 2 d µ 2 + r 2 sin 2 µ d Á 2 . It is n o t
p o ssib le to in tro d u ce a n y o th er set o f co o rd in a tes o n th e
su rfa ce o f a sp h ere su ch th a t th is ex p ressio n { u su a lly
ca lled th e `lin e in terva l' { red u ces to th e P y th a g o rea n
fo rm . T h is is th e d i® eren ce b etw een a cu rv ed sp a ce a n d
° a t sp a ce.
M ov e o n fro m sp a ce to sp a cetim e a n d fro m p o in ts to
ev en ts. In ° a t sp a cetim e, w h ich w e u se in sp ecia l rela -
tiv ity, th e `P y th a g o ra s th eo rem ' g en era lizes to th e fo rm
d s 2 = ¡ c 2 d t2 + d x 2 + d y 2 + d z 2 : (1 )
T h e sp a tia l co o rd in a tes a p p ea r in th e sta n d a rd fo rm a n d
th e in clu sio n o f tim e in tro d u ces th e a ll im p o rta n t m in u s
sig n . B u t o n e ca n liv e w ith it an d trea t it a s a g en era liza -
tio n o f th e fo rm u la d l2 = d x 2 + d y 2 to 4 -d im en sio n s (w ith
a n ex tra m in u s sig n ). B u t in a cu rv ed sp a cetim e, th is
ex p ressio n w ill n o t h o ld a n d th e co o rd in a te d i® eren tia ls
lik e c 2 d t2 ;d x 2 , etc., in th e in terva l w ill g et m u ltip lied b y
fu n ctio n s o f sp a ce a n d tim e. T h is is ju st lik e o u r u sin g
sin 2 µ d Á 2 ra th er th a n ju st d Á 2 to d escrib e th e cu rv ed
2 -d im en sio n a l su rfa ce o f a sp h ere. T h e p recise m a n n er
in w h ich su ch a m o d i¯ ca tio n o ccu rs is d eterm in ed b y
E in stein 's eq u a tio n a n d d ep en d s o n th e d istrib u tio n o f
m a tter in sp a cetim e.

260 RESONANCE ⎜ March 2009


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W h ile th is ca n lea d to p retty co m p lica ted sp a cetim es


in g en era l, th e la rg e-sca le u n iv erse tu rn s o u t to b e d e-
scrib ed b y a rem a rka b ly sim p le g en era liza tio n o f th e lin e
in terva l in (1 ). W e o n ly n eed to m o d ify it in to th e fo rm
£ ¤
d s 2 = ¡ c 2 d t2 + a 2 (t) d x 2 + d y 2 + d z 2 ; (2 )
w h ere th e fu n ctio n a (t) is ca lled th e `ex p a n sio n fa cto r'.
A ll th e in fo rm a tio n a b o u t th e b eh a v io u r o f th e u n iv erse
is co n ta in ed in th is sin g le fu n ctio n w h ich { in tu rn {
ca n b e d eterm in ed b y E in stein 's eq u a tio n if w e k n ow
th e co n ten ts o f th e u n iv erse 1 . H ow ev er, ev en w ith o u t 1
As usual, we are simplifying the
k n ow in g th e ex p licit fo rm o f a (t), o n e ca n ¯ g u re o u t a universe a little bit; it turns out
that you actually need one more
lo t o f th in g s a b o u t su ch a u n iv erse, a s w e sh a ll see.
number characterizing the cur-
T h e k ey trick is to n o tice th a t, a t a n y g iv en tim e t, vature of the space to describe
the universe completely. But
o n e ca n in tro d u ce a n ew sp a tia l co o rd in a te r(t) ´ a (t)x observations show that this num-
so th a t, a t th is in sta n t o f tim e, th e sp a ce lo o k s ju st lik e ber is quite close to zero and
w h a t w e a re a ccu sto m ed to in sp ecia l rela tiv ity. T h e r is hence I will ignore it.
ca lled `p ro p er co o rd in a te' w h ile x is ca lled th e `co m ov in g
co o rd in a te'. S in ce th e sp a ce lo o k s fa m ilia r in term s o f
r , o n e u ses sta n d a rd law s o f p h y sics in term s o f th ese
p ro p er co o rd in a tes a n d th en tra n sla tes th em b a ck to
x , h o p in g fo r th e b est. A m a zin g ly, it w o rk s fo r m o st
p u rp o ses.
T o b eg in w ith , co n sid er tw o p a rticles lo ca ted a t x 1 a n d
x 2 = x 1 + ±x w h ich a re in ¯ n itesim a lly sep a ra ted . T h e
co o rd in a te d ista n ce b etw een th ese tw o p a rticles is j± x j
w h ile th e p ro p er d ista n ce is j± l(t)j = a (t)j±x j. W e n ow
n o te th a t, ev en if th e p a rticles d o n o t m ov e in term s o f
x -co o rd in a te (i.e., ea ch p a rticle h a s a ¯ x ed x -co o rd in a te
w h ich d o es n o t ch a n g e w ith tim e) th eir proper sep a ra -
tio n ch a n g es w ith tim e b eca u se o f th e a (t) fa cto r. T h e
rela tiv e v elo city a t w h ich th ese p a rticles a re m ov in g fro m
ea ch o th er is g iv en b y
d ±l a_
±v = = a_± x = ± l : (3 )
dt a
T h is resu lt, a s w e ca n see, is essen tia lly H u b b le's law !
It sh ow s th a t th e tw o p a rticles a re m ov in g aw ay fro m

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ea ch o th er w ith a sp eed p ro p o rtio n a l to th eir sep a ra tio n


w h en H (t) ´ (a_= a ) is p o sitiv e.
G iv en th is resu lt, o n e ca n o b ta in sev era l o th er in terest-
in g co n seq u en ces. S u p p o se a n a rrow p en cil o f (n ea rly )
m o n o ch ro m a tic electro m a g n etic ra d ia tio n cro sses th ese
tw o co m ov in g o b serv ers lo ca ted a t x 1 a n d x 2 = x 1 + ± x .
W e w a n t to k n ow w h a t freq u en cy th ese tw o o b serv ers
w ill a ttrib u te to th e electro m a g n etic ra d ia tio n . T h e tim e
fo r th e electro m a g n etic ra d ia tio n to trav erse th e d ista n ce
± l w ill b e ± t = ± l= c. L et th e freq u en cy o f th e ra d ia tio n
m ea su red b y th e ¯ rst o b serv er b e ! . S in ce th e ¯ rst o b -
serv er sees th e seco n d o n e to b e recedin g w ith v elo city
± v , sh e w ill ex p ect th e seco n d o b serv er to m ea su re a
D o p p ler sh ifted freq u en cy (! + ± ! ), w h ere
±! ±v a_ ± l a_ ±a
= ¡ = ¡ = ¡ ±t = ¡ : (4 )
! c a c a a
H ow d o es o n e in terp ret th is rela tio n ? It sh ow s th a t th e
freq u en cy o f electro m a g n etic ra d ia tio n a s m ea su red b y
th e co m ov in g o b serv ers ch a n g es w h en th e ex p a n sio n fa c-
to r a (t) ch a n g es w ith tim e. If ± a is p o sitiv e (i.e., if th e
u n iv erse is ex p a n d in g ), ± ! is n eg a tiv e in d ica tin g a red -
sh ift in th e freq u en cy o f ra d ia tio n . In fa ct, th e a b ov e
eq u a tio n ca n b e im m ed ia tely in teg ra ted to g iv e

! (t)a (t) = co n sta n t : (5 )

W e th u s co n clu d e th a t th e freq u en cy o f electro m a g n etic


ra d ia tio n ch a n g es d u e to ex p a n sio n o f th e u n iv erse a c-
co rd in g to th e law ! / a ¡1 . T h is a p p ro a ch w o rk s b e-
The frequency of ca u se, in a n in ¯ n itesim a l reg io n a ro u n d a n ev en t, o n e
electromagnetic ca n a lw ay s u se th e law s o f sp ecia l rela tiv ity. (O n e ca n
radiation changes th in k o f it a s a va ria n t o f th e so -ca lled prin ciple of equ iv-
due to expansion of alen ce w h ich essen tia lly tells y o u th a t th e g en u in e e® ects
the universe o f sp a cetim e cu rva tu re a re seco n d o rd er in th e sep a ra -
according to the law tio n b etw een clo se ev en ts.) T h is is tru e in a n y sp a cetim e
ω ∝ a–1. b u t w e w ill n o t u su a lly b e a b le to in teg ra te th e lo ca l re-
su lt a n d o b ta in a g lo b a l law in a g en era l sp a cetim e w h en

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th e g eo m etry va ries fro m p o in t to p o in t in sp a ce. W e


co u ld a ch iev e it in th is p a rticu la r ca se b eca u se th e m o d -
i¯ ca tio n o f sp a cetim e in terva l fro m th e o n e in (1 ) to th e
o n e in (2 ) d id n o t in v o lv e a n y fu n ctio n th a t d ep en d ed
o n th e spatial co o rd in a tes.
In fa ct, o n e ca n o b ta in a sim ila r resu lt fo r a n y p a rticle,
n o t ju st p h o to n s. T o d o th is, let u s co n sid er a m a teria l
p a rticle w h ich p a sses th e ¯ rst o b serv er w ith v elo city v .
W h en it h a s cro ssed th e p ro p er d ista n ce ± l (in a tim e
in terva l ± t), it p a sses th e seco n d o b serv er w h o se v elo city
(rela tiv e to th e ¯ rst o n e) is

a_ a_ ±a
±u = ±l = vd t = v : (6 )
a a a
T h e v elo city a ttrib u ted to th is p a rticle b y th e seco n d
o b serv er ca n b e o b ta in ed b y u sin g th e sp ecia l rela tiv istic
law fo r th e a d d itio n o f v elo cities. T h is g iv es
· ¸
0 v ¡ ±u v2 (± u )2
v = = v ¡ (1 ¡ 2 )± u + O
1 ¡ (v ± u = c 2 ) c c2

v 2 ±a
= v ¡ (1 ¡ )v : (7 )
c2 a
R ew ritin g th is eq u a tio n a s

v 2 ±a
± v = ¡ v (1 ¡ ) (8 )
c2 a
a n d in teg ra tin g , w e g et
v co n sta n t
p = p = : (9 )
1 ¡ (v 2 = c 2 ) a

In o th er w o rd s, th e m a g n itu d e o f th e 3 -m o m en tu m d e-
crea ses a s a ¡ 1 d u e to th e ex p a n sio n . If th e p a rticle is
n o n -rela tiv istic, th en v / p a n d v elo city itself d eca y s a s
a ¡1 .

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O n ce w e h av e th e sca lin g o f th e m o m en tu m o f p a rti-


cles a n d p h o to n s, o n e ca n p ro ceed fu rth er a n d u n d er-
sta n d h ow th e en erg y d en sity o f ra d ia tio n ch a n g es in
a n ex p a n d in g u n iv erse. T o d o th is, let u s co n sid er th e
d escrip tio n o f a b u n ch o f p h o to n s in term s o f a d is-
trib u tio n fu n ctio n f (r ;p ;t) in p h a se sp a ce. A s u su a l,
d N = f (r;p ;t)d 3 rd 3 p g iv es th e n u m b er o f p h o to n s in
a sm a ll p h a se v o lu m e. In ex p a n d in g co o rd in a tes, th e
sp a tia l v o lu m e in crea ses a s a 3 w h ile, fro m o u r p rev i-
o u s resu lt, w e k n ow th a t th e m o m en tu m sp a ce v o lu m e
d ecrea ses a s a ¡3 . S o th e p h a se sp a ce v o lu m e elem en t
is in va ria n t a n d { sin ce d N is in va ria n t { th e d istrib -
u tio n fu n ctio n f rem a in s in va ria n t a s th e u n iv erse ex -
p a n d s. E x p ressin g th e m o m en tu m o f th e p h o to n a s
p = (~! = c)^p , w h ere p^ is a u n it v ecto r in th e d irectio n o f
p ro p a g a tio n , w e ¯ n d th a t th e m o m en tu m sp a ce v o lu m e
is p ro p o rtio n a l to ! 2 d ! d − w h ere d − d en o tes th e so lid
a n g le in th e d irectio n o f th e m o m en tu m p^ . S o w e ca n
a lso w rite

d N = f (r;p ;t)d 3 rd 3 p / f (r;! ; p^ ;t)! 2 d 3 r d ! d − :


(1 0 )

F u rth er, b eca u se f g iv es th e n u m ber d en sity o f p h o to n s


p er u n it p h a se v o lu m e, th e co rresp o n d in g en erg y d en sity
is g iv en b y (~! )f . It fo llow s th a t th e en erg y d en sity o f
ra d ia tio n p er u n it ra n g e o f freq u en cy is p ro p o rtio n a l to
½ / ! 3 f . U sin g o u r p rev io u s resu lt th a t th e d istrib u tio n
fu n ctio n rem a in s in va ria n t, w e co n clu d e th a t ½ (! )= ! 3
Using our previous rem a in s in va ria n t a s th e u n iv erse ex p a n d s.
result that the
T h is h a s a v ery in terestin g co n seq u en ce. S u p p o se th e
distribution
u n iv erse is ¯ lled w ith a ra d ia tio n b a th , th e en erg y d en -
function remains
sity o f w h ich h a s th e fo rm ½ (! ) = ! 3 F (! = ® ), w h ere ®
invariant, we
is so m e p a ra m eter a n d F is so m e a rb itra ry fu n ctio n o f
conclude that
its a rg u m en t. A s th e u n iv erse ex p a n d s, ½ = ! 3 rem a in s
ρ (ω) /ω3 remains
in va ria n t w h ile ! itself ch a n g es a s ! / a (t)¡1 . If w e d e-
invariant as the
n o te th e va lu es m ea su red to d ay b y a su b scrip t 0 , th en
universe expands. ! 0 = ! (t)a (t)= a 0 . It fo llow s th a t fo r th e fa cto r ! 0 = ® , w e

264 RESONANCE ⎜ March 2009


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ca n w rite As the universe


!0 ! (t)(a (t)= a 0 ) ! (t) expands, a Planck
= = : (1 1 )
® ® ® (a 0 = a (t)) spectrum remains a
Planck spectrum
T h is sh ow s th a t th e red sh iftin g o f th e freq u en cy ca n b e
with the temperature
eq u iva len tly th o u g h t o f a s resca lin g o f th e p a ra m eter ®
a s th e u n iv erse ex p a n d s w ith ® (t) / 1 = a (t). S o th e redshifting
ra d ia tio n en erg y d en sity o f th e fo rm ½ (! ) = ! 3 F (! = ® ) according to the law
reta in s its sh a p e a s th e u n iv erse ex p a n d s, ex cep t fo r a n T ∝ a–1.
ov era ll sca lin g .
T h e P la n ck sp ectru m o f ra d ia tio n is o n e sp ecia l ca se
in w h ich en erg y d en sity h a s th e a b o v e-m en tio n ed fu n c-
tio n a l fo rm w ith
½ / ! 3 [ex p (~! = k T ) ¡ 1 ]¡ 1 ´ ! 3 F (! = T ) : (1 2 )
T h e releva n t p a ra m eter n ow is th e tem p era tu re o f th e
ra d ia tio n . T h erefo re, a s th e u n iv erse ex p a n d s, a P la n ck
sp ectru m rem a in s a P la n ck sp ectru m w ith th e tem p er-
a tu re red sh iftin g a cco rd in g to th e law T / a ¡1 .
It sh o u ld b e stressed th a t th is resu lt h a s n o th in g to d o
w ith th erm a l eq u ilib riu m ! In fa ct, th e situ a tio n w e a re
co n sid erin g is p recisely th e o th er ex trem e o f th erm a l
eq u ilib riu m in w h ich th e ra d ia tio n h a s co m p letely d e-
co u p led fro m m a tter. T o cla rify th is p o in t, let m e b rie° y
d escrib e w h a t h a p p en s in o u r rea l u n iv erse. V ery ea rly in
th e ev o lu tio n o f th e u n iv erse, ch a rg ed p a rticles a n d p h o -
to n s w ere stro n g ly co u p led to ea ch o th er a n d ex isted in
th e fo rm o f p la sm a in real th erm o d y n a m ic eq u ilib riu m .
S u ch a stro n g co u p lin g im p lies th a t th e ra d ia tio n w ill b e
th erm a lized a n d its sp ectra l d istrib u tio n w o u ld h av e th e
P la n ck ia n fo rm . L et u s a ssu m e th a t a t so m e in sta n t o f
tim e, w e sw itch o ® a ll th e in tera ctio n b etw een ra d ia tio n
a n d m a tter (in o u r u n iv erse th is h a p p en ed w h en it w a s
a b o u t o n e-th o u sa n d th o f th e p resen t size). F ro m th a t
ep o ch o n w a rd s, ea ch o f th e p h o to n s h a s b een p ro p a g a t-
in g in th e ex p a n d in g u n iv erse w ith its freq u en cy red -
sh iftin g a cco rd in g to th e law ! / a ¡ 1 . T h e p h o to n s a re

RESONANCE ⎜ March 2009 265


SERIES ⎜ ARTICLE

In Wheelerian
n o t in tera ctin g w ith m a tter: th ere is n o ex ch a n g e o f en -
language, we get
erg y a n d th ere is n o p ro cess w h ich `m a in ta in s' th erm a l
eq u ilib riu m . N ev erth eless, a t p resen t, th e p h o to n s w ill
“thermal
b e d escrib ed b y a P la n ck d istrib u tio n w ith a red sh ifted
equilibrium without
tem p era tu re, b eca u se th e fo rm o f th e P la n ck sp ectru m
thermal
w ill b e p reserv ed w ith th e tem p era tu re o f th e ra d ia tio n
equilibrium”.
d ecrea sin g a s T / a ¡1 u n d er co sm ic ex p a n sio n . T h is is a
p u rely k in em a tic e® ect o ccu rrin g fo r p h o to n s w h ich a re
p ro p a g a tin g freely th ro u g h th e u n iv erse. In W h eeleria n
la n g u a g e, w e g et \ th erm a l eq u ilib riu m w ith o u t th erm a l
eq u ilib riu m " .
L et u s n ex t ta k e a clo ser lo o k a t th e d y n a m ics o f n o n -
rela tiv istic p a rticles in su ch a n ex p a n d in g u n iv erse. C o n -
sid er a p a rticle lo ca ted a t th e co m ov in g co o rd in a te x
co rresp o n d in g to th e p ro p er co o rd in a te r (t) = a (t)x .
E v en if x d o es n o t ch a n g e w ith tim e { i.e., ev en if th e
p a rticle h a s co n sta n t co m o v in g co o rd in a te { its p ro p er
co o rd in a te r w ill ch a n g e w ith tim e d u e to a (t). T h is
w ill in d u ce a n a ccelera tio n o n th e p a rticle g iv en b y Är =
(Äa = a )r. G iv en o u r u su a l p reju d ice th a t a ccelera tio n s
a rise d u e to fo rces, it seem s n a tu ra l to a ttrib u te th is a c-
celera tio n to th e ex isten ce o f a g lo b a l \ co sm ic p o ten tia l"
© = ¡ (1= 2 )(Äa = a )r 2 , so th a t w e ca n w rite Är = ¡ r r © .
(T h e su b scrip t r in r r is to rem in d o u rselv es th a t th e
g ra d ien t is w ith resp ect to r a n d n o t x ; n o te th a t r r =
a ¡ 1 r x .) W ith in th e co n tex t o f su ch N ew to n ia n co n -
sid era tio n s, w e ca n a ttrib u te th is p o ten tia l to a m a ss
d en sity ½ b g (t) su ch th a t r 2r © = 4¼ G ½ b g (t). S im p le d if-
feren tia tio n o f © g iv es
aÄ 4¼ G
= ¡ ½ b g (t) (1 3 )
a 3
w h ich rela tes th e ex p a n sio n fa cto r a (t) to a u n ifo rm
b a ck g ro u n d d en sity ½ b g (t) o f m a tter in th e u n iv erse. It
a ll seem s n a tu ra l to a ssu m e th a t th e to ta l n u m b er o f
p a rticles w ith in a p ro p er v o lu m e sh o u ld n o t ch a n g e a s
th e u n iv erse ex p a n d s, th ereb y su g g estin g ½ b g (t) / a ¡ 3 .
If y o u su b stitu te th is in to (1 3), th en it is ea sy to sh ow

266 RESONANCE ⎜ March 2009


SERIES ⎜ ARTICLE

th a t a (t) / t2 = 3 ev en th o u g h w e w ill n o t req u ire th is


resu lt in o u r d iscu ssio n . In th is a p p ro a ch , w e th in k o f
a la rg e n u m b er o f p a rticles b ein g d istrib u ted u n ifo rm ly
th ro u g h o u t th e u n iv erse a n d a ttrib u te © to su ch a co llec-
tio n o f p a rticles. T h is is, o f co u rse, co n cep tu a lly a d u b i-
o u s p ro ced u re w ith in th e co n tex t o f N ew to n ia n g rav ity
b u t it tu rn s o u t th a t { fo r th e sp eci¯ c ca se u n d er d is-
cu ssio n { g en era l rela tiv ity lea d s to th e sa m e resu lt.
G iv en th is in terp reta tio n , o n e ca n a sk w h a t h a p p en s
if w e p ertu rb th e d en sity in th e u n iv erse in a sp a ce-
d ep en d en t m a n n er so th a t ½ b g (t) ! ½ b g (t)[1 + ± (t;x )].
T h e p o ten tia l w ill ch a n g e to ª ´ © + Á w ith th e ex tra
b it Á p ro d u ced b y th e ex tra d en sity ½ b g (t)±(t;x ); th a t
is:
1 2
r 2r Á = r Á = 4 ¼ G ½ b g (t)± (t;x ) : (1 4 )
a2 x
W e w o u ld lik e to in terp ret th is situ a tio n in term s o f a
sy stem o f a la rg e n u m b er o f p a rticles w ith co m ov in g
p o sitio n s x i, w h ere i = 1;2;::: la b els ea ch o f th e p a rti-
cles. A s lo n g a s a ll th e p a rticles h av e co n sta n t va lu es
fo r x i , a ll o f th em w ill m ov e aw ay fro m ea ch o th er d u e
to th e ex p a n sio n w h ich w e a ttrib u te to th e p o ten tia l © .
T h is is th e sp a tia lly u n ifo rm d en sity situ a tio n . B u t if
th e p a rticles a re d istu rb ed fro m th eir co n sta n t x i va l-
u es, th en th e m a tter d en sity w ill b eco m e n o n u n ifo rm {
w ith ± (t;x ) 6= 0 { a n d th e p o ten tia l © is m o d i¯ ed to
ª ´ © + Á . O f co u rse, ea ch o f th e p a rticles w ill n ow feel
th e fo rce d u e to th is to ta l p o ten tia l ª . T h e a ccelera tio n
o f th e j -th p a rticle, n ow g iv en b y

d 2 rj
= aÄ x j + 2 aÄ x_ j + a xÄ j (1 5 )
d t2
a rises d u e to th e g ra d ien t o f th e m o d i¯ ed p o ten tia l ª ´
© + Á . W e n o te th a t th e ¯ rst term in th e rig h t-h a n d
sid e o f (1 5 ) is (Äa = a )r w h ich is ju st ¡ r r © . T h erefo re,
r r Á (= a ¡1 r x Á ) sh o u ld lea d to th e o th er tw o term s in

RESONANCE ⎜ March 2009 267


SERIES ⎜ ARTICLE

Equation (16) is (1 5 ). W ith so m e rea rra n g em en t, th is lea d s to


the key to a_ 1
Äx j + 2 x_ j = ¡ 2 r x Á : (1 6 )
understanding a a
gravitational
T h is eq u a tio n tells y o u h ow th e co m ov in g co o rd in a tes o f
clustering in an
th e p a rticles ch a n g e th ereb y m a k in g th e d en sity d istrib -
expanding u tio n o f p a rticles in th e u n iv erse n o n -u n ifo rm w h ich , in
background. tu rn , g iv es rise to r x Á . T h e p o ten tia l Á ca n b e th o u g h t
o f a s b ein g g en era ted b y th e p ertu rb a tio n s fro m th e u n i-
fo rm d en sity o f p a rticles. T h is eq u a tio n is th e k ey to
u n d ersta n d in g g rav ita tio n a l clu sterin g in a n ex p a n d in g
b a ck g ro u n d .
E a ch o f th e term s in th is eq u a tio n h a s a n in terestin g
in terp reta tio n . T h e ¯ rst term xÄ j is th e a ccelera tio n
co rresp o n d in g to th e co m ov in g p o sitio n o f th e p a rticle,
w h ich a rises ov er a n d a b ov e th e a ccelera tio n d u e to th e
b a ck g ro u n d ex p a n sio n (th e ¯ rst term in (1 5 ) w h ich w e
h av e a lrea d y a cco u n ted fo r b y th e g ra d ien t o f co sm ic p o -
ten tia l). T h e seco n d term is a d a m p in g (frictio n ) term
w h ich tries to d ecrea se th e sp eed o f th e p a rticle. In fa ct,
if th e rig h t-h a n d sid e o f (1 6 ) is zero , th e eq u a tio n ca n
b e in teg ra ted to g iv e a 2 x_ = co n sta n t o r, a ltern a tiv ely
a x_ = 1= a . T h is ca n b e rew ritten in th e fo rm
1
a x_ = r_ ¡ H r = : (1 7 )
a
T h e left-h a n d sid e is th e d ev ia tio n o f th e p ro p er v elo city
r_ fro m th e H u b b le ex p a n sio n v elo city H r_. T h e q u a n tity
a x_ is so m etim es ca lled `p ecu lia r v elo city ' fo r n o g o o d
rea so n . T h e rig h t-h a n d sid e sh ow s th a t th is d i® eren ce
d ecay s d ow n a 1= a so th a t { in th e a b sen ce o f th e r x Á
term o n th e rig h t h a n d sid e o f (1 6 ) { p a rticles w ill ten d
to a p p ro a ch th e co sm ic ex p a n sio n v elo city. T h is is th e
k ey e® ect o f th e `frictio n ' term .
F in a lly, th e g ra d ien t in th e rig h t h a n d sid e o f (1 6 ) is
w h a t is k eep in g th e a ccelera tio n a liv e a n d lea d s to g rav -
ita tio n a l clu sterin g . H ere to o , th ere is o n e cu rio u s fea -
tu re. T h e p ertu rb a tio n o f th e b a ck g ro u n d d en sity, ±(t;x ),

268 RESONANCE ⎜ March 2009


SERIES ⎜ ARTICLE

ca n b e eith er p o sitiv e o r n eg a tiv e in a n y g iv en reg io n


An underdense region
(ex cep t fo r th e co n d itio n th a t ± > ¡ 1 to k eep ½ > 0 ).
T h erefo re, th e so u rce fo r th e p o ten tia l Á in (1 4 ) ca n b e of the universe –
p o sitiv e d en sity o r n eg a tiv e d en sity ! (T h is is so m ew h a t usually called a ‘void’
lik e electro sta tics in w h ich th e ch a rg e d en sity ca n b e p o s- in the distribution of
itiv e o r n eg a tiv e.) S o th e g rav ita tio n a l fo rce p ro d u ced galaxies – exerts an
b y th is d istrib u tio n ca n b e a ttra ctiv e o r rep u lsiv e in th e effective repulsive
rig h t-h a n d sid e o f (1 6 )! In fa ct a n u n d erd en se reg io n o f force on the
th e u n iv erse { u su a lly ca lled a `v o id ' in th e d istrib u tio n surrounding matter.
o f g a la x ies { ex erts a n e® ectiv e rep u lsiv e fo rce o n th e
su rro u n d in g m a tter.
B y m u ltip ly in g (1 6 ) th ro u g h o u t b y a 2 w e ca n reca st it
in th e fo rm
d 2
(a x_ j ) = ¡ r x Á : (1 8 )
dt
O b v io u sly, th is eq u a tio n fo r ea ch o f th e p a rticles ca n b e
o b ta in ed fro m a n ex p licitly tim e-d ep en d en t L a g ra n g ia n
o f th e fo rm
X µ1 ¶
2 2
L = m a x_j ¡ m Á ´ K ¡ U ; (1 9 )
j
2

w h ere w e h av e su m m ed ov er a ll th e p a rticles w ith th e


u n d ersta n d in g th a t Á a t th e lo ca tio n o f ea ch p a rticle is
p ro d u ced b y th e rest o f th e p a rticles. T h is L a g ra n g ia n ,
in tu rn , w ill lea d to a H a m ilto n ia n o f th e fo rm
X µ p 2j ¶
H = + m Á ´ K + U: (2 0 )
j
2m a 2

T h is a llow s u s to o b ta in a ra th er in terestin g a n d cu rio u s


resu lt. W e ¯ rst reca ll th a t w h en ev er a H a m ilto n ia n d e-
p en d s ex p licitly o n tim e, w e h av e th e resu lt (d H = d t) =
(@ H = @ t) w h ere th e rig h t-h a n d sid e is eva lu a ted k eep in g
th e co o rd in a tes a n d m o m en ta co n sta n t. F ro m th e fo rm
o f H , w e im m ed ia tely g et (@ K = @ t) = ¡ 2 (a_= a )K . O n th e
o th er h a n d , th e p o ten tia l en erg y b etw een a n y tw o p a r-
ticles va ries a s jr i ¡ r j j¡ 1 = a ¡1 jx i ¡ x j j¡1 . T h is im p lies

RESONANCE ⎜ March 2009 269


SERIES ⎜ ARTICLE

th a t (@ U = @ t) = ¡ (a_= a )U . P u ttin g a ll th ese to g eth er,


w e g et th e resu lt
d a_
(K + U ) = ¡ (2K + U ): (2 1 )
dt a
T h is rela tio n g o es u n d er th e n a m e `C o sm ic V iria l th e-
o rem ' (o r `C o sm ic E n erg y eq u a tio n ') a n d is o n e o f th e
few ex a ct resu lts y o u ca n o b ta in ra th er ea sily in th is
p a rticu la r co n tex t. T h e left-h a n d sid e o f th e eq u a tio n
rep resen ts th e ra te o f ch a n g e o f to ta l en erg y o f a co l-
lectio n o f p a rticles. T h e rig h t-h a n d sid e tells y o u th a t
(K + U ) is n o t co n serv ed fo r su ch a sy stem o f p a rticles
ex cep t in tw o d i® eren t co n tex ts. T h e ¯ rst o n e is th e
ra th er triv ia l ca se o f a_ = 0 w h ich is ju st sta n d a rd cla s-
sica l m ech a n ics w ith o u t a n y b a ck g ro u n d ex p a n sio n a n d
th e to ta l en erg y is, o f co u rse, co n serv ed . T h e seco n d {
a n d m o re cu rio u s situ a tio n { co rresp o n d s to 2 K + U = 0
w h ich y o u w ill reco g n ize is th e sta n d a rd v iria l eq u ilib -
riu m co n d itio n fo r a set o f p a rticles in tera ctin g v ia N ew -
to n ia n g rav ity. In p ra ctica l term s, th is resu lt im p lies th e
fo llow in g . S u p p o se d u rin g th e ev o lu tio n o f th e u n iv erse
a b u n ch o f p a rticles co m e to g eth er a n d fo rm a v iria lized
self-g rav ita tin g clu ster. T h en , to th e ex ten t w e ca n ig -
n o re th e in tera ctio n o f th is clu ster w ith th e rest o f th e
p a rticles in th e u n iv erse, its en erg y w ill b e co n serv ed .
R o u g h ly sp ea k in g , su ch v iria lized clu sters d o n o t p a r-
ticip a te in th e co sm ic d y n a m ics.
F in a lly I w a n t to d escrib e a n in terestin g a n d ex a ct b o u n d
o n th e k in etic en erg y o f p a rticles in su ch a clu ster fo rm ed
in th e ex p a n d in g u n iv erse, w h ich ca n b e o b ta in ed fro m
th e co sm ic v iria l th eo rem . T o d o th is, w e ¯ rst n o te th a t
(2 1 ) ca n a lso b e w ritten a s:
Virialized clusters d
a (K + U ) = ¡ K a_ < 0 (2 2 )
do not participate dt
in the cosmic
dynamics. S o w e k n ow th a t a (K + U ) is a d ecrea sin g fu n ctio n o f
tim e. V ery ea rly o n , w h en n o sig n i¯ ca n t clu sterin g h a s

270 RESONANCE ⎜ March 2009


SERIES ⎜ ARTICLE

o ccu rred , w e w ill h av e K ¼ 0 a n d U < 0 , m a k in g (K +


U ) n eg a tiv e v ery ea rly in th e ev o lu tio n . It th en fo llo w s
th a t w e m u st h av e K < ¡ U o r ra th er K < jU j a t a ll
tim es. N ex t, n o te th a t (2 1 ) ca n a lso b e w ritten a s

d 2 1 a2 dU
a (K + U ) = ¡ : (2 3 )
dt 2 2 dt
A s stru ctu res d ev elo p in th e u n iv erse, p o ten tia l w ells w ill
g et d eep er a n d d eep er a n d h en ce d (¡ U )= d t > 0 m a k in g
th e left-h a n d sid e p o sitiv e. In th e ea rly sta g es, sin ce
U ¼ 0 , w e h av e (K + U = 2 ) > 0 . H en ce w e co n clu d e
th a t, a t a n y la ter tim e K > ¡ (1= 2 )U o r K > (1 = 2 )jU j.
C o m b in in g w ith th e p rev io u s resu lt, w e g et
1
jU j < K < jU j : (2 4 )
2
T h is is a ra th er n ea t resu lt o n th e rela tio n sh ip b etw een
k in etic a n d p o ten tia l en erg ies o f stru ctu res fo rm ed b y
g rav ita tio n a l clu sterin g , w h ich m u st h o ld in d ep en d en t Address for Correspondence
T Padmanabhan
o f th e d eta ils o f th e p ro cess!
IUCAA, Post Bag 4
Pune University Campus
Suggested Reading Ganeshkhind
Pune 411 007, India.
[1] P J E Peebles, Large scale structure of the universe, Princeton University
Email:
Press, 1980, section 24 .
paddy@iucaa.ernet.in
[2] T Padmanabhan, Structure formation in the universe, Cambridge Uni-
nabhan@iucaa.ernet.in
versity Press, 1992, Chapter 4.

RESONANCE ⎜ March 2009 271