Generation of gravitational waves from freely decaying turbulence


Auclair, Pierre; Caprini, Chiara; Cutting, Daniel; Hindmarsh, Mark; Rummukainen, Kari; Steer, Danièle A.; Weir, David J.g (2022)


We study the stochastic gravitational wave background (SGWB) produced by freely decaying vortical turbulence in the early Universe. We thoroughly investigate the time correlation of the velocity field, and hence of the anisotropic stresses producing the gravitational waves. With hydrodynamical simulations, we show that the unequal time correlation function (UETC) of the Fourier components of the velocity field is Gaussian in the time difference, as predicted by the “sweeping” decorrelation model. We introduce a decorrelation model that can be extended to wavelengths around the integral scale of the flow. Supplemented with the evolution laws of the kinetic energy and of the integral scale, this provides a new model UETC of the turbulent velocity field consistent with the simulations. We discuss the UETC as a positive definite kernel, and propose to use the Gibbs kernel for the velocity UETC as a natural way to ensure positive definiteness of the SGWB. The SGWB is given by a 4-dimensional integration of the resulting anisotropic stress UETC with the gravitational wave Green’s function. We perform this integration using a Monte Carlo algorithm based on importance sampling, and find that the result matches that of the simulations. Furthermore, the SGWB obtained from the numerical integration and from the simulations show close agreement with a model in which the source is constant in time and abruptly turns off after a few eddy turnover times. Based on this assumption, we provide an approximate analytical form for the SGWB spectrum and its scaling with the initial kinetic energy and integral scale. Finally, we use our model and numerical integration algorithm to show that including an initial growth phase for the turbulent flow heavily influences the spectral shape of the SGWB. This highlights the importance of a complete understanding of the turbulence generation mechanism.