After the Big Bang, there likely came a period of inflation where the universe rapidly expanded. As this rapid expansion ends, incredibly dense quantum matter--called a condensate--is expected to form. However, even if this condensate is long-lived, interactions between it and its own gravitational field ultimately cause it to fragment. Now, scientists have created the first simulation of the condensate during this process. Musoke et al. modeled the matter's fragmentation to provide the first quantitative examination of the gravitational disintegration of the condensate. They found that fragmentation can be described by the Schrodinger-Poisson equation, which describes how large numbers of quantum particles interact with their gravitational fields. Knowing how this quantum condensate might have behaved right after the Big Bang could also potentially help scientists understand the formation of dark matter and to make precise predictions for key cosmological observables.
Lighting the Dark: The Evolution of the Post-Inflationary Universe Nathan Musoke, Shaun Hotchkiss, and Richard Easther