Dark Energy and its Implications for Gravity

Padmanabhan, T.
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The cosmological constant is the most economical candidate for dark energy. No other approach really alleviates the difficulties faced by the cosmological constant because, in all other attempts to model the dark energy, one still has to explain why the bulk cosmological constant (treated as a low-energy parameter in the action principle) is zero. I argue that until the theory is made invariant under the shifting of the Lagrangian by a constant, one cannot obtain a satisfactory solution to the cosmological constant problem. This is impossible in any generally covariant theory with the conventional low-energy matter action, if the metric is varied in the action to obtain the field equations. I review an alternative perspective in which gravity arises as an emergent, long wavelength phenomenon and can be described in terms of an effective theory using an action associated with null vectors in the spacetime. This action is explicitly invariant under the shift of the energy momentum tensor $T_{ab}\to T_{ab}+\Lambda g_{ab}$ and any bulk cosmological constant can be gauged away. Such an approach seems to be necessary for addressing the cosmological constant problem and can easily explain why its bulk value is zero. I describe some possibilities for obtaining its observed value from quantum gravitational fluctuations.
Comment: Invited article to appear in Advanced Science Letters Special Issue on Quantum Gravity, Cosmology and Black holes (editor: M. Bojowald)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology, Astrophysics, High Energy Physics - Theory