A derelict train on the edge of Uyuni, Bolivia

Cosmology on all scales: a two-parameter perturbation expansion


We propose and construct a two-parameter perturbative expansion around a Friedmann-Lemaitre-Robertson-Walker geometry that can be used to model high-order gravitational effects in the presence of non-linear structure. This framework reduces to the weak-field and slow-motion post-Newtonian treatment of gravity in the appropriate limits, but also includes the low-amplitude large-scale fluctuations that are important for cosmological modelling. We derive a set of field equations that can be applied to the late Universe, where non-linear structure exists on supercluster scales, and perform a detailed investigation of the associated gauge problem. This allows us to identify a consistent set of perturbed quantities in both the gravitational and matter sectors, and to construct a set of gauge-invariant quantities that correspond to each of them. The field equations, written in terms of these quantities, take on a relatively simple form, and allow the effects of small-scale structure on the large-scale properties of the Universe to be clearly identified. We find that inhomogeneous structures source the global expansion, that there exist new field equations at new orders, and that there is vector gravitational potential that is a hundred times larger than one might naively expect from cosmological perturbation theory. Finally, we expect our formalism to be of use for calculating relativistic effects in upcoming ultra-large-scale surveys, as the form of the gravitational coupling between small and large scales depends on the non-linearity of Einstein’s equations, and occurs at what is normally thought of as first order in cosmological perturbations.

Physical Review D