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On the trace-free Einstein equations as a viable alternative to general relativity

Abstract : The quantum field theoretical prediction for the vacuum energy density leads to a value for the effective cosmological constant that is incorrect by between 60 and 120 orders of magnitude. We review an old proposal of replacing Einstein’s field equations by their trace-free part (the trace-free Einstein equations), together with an independent assumption of energy-momentum conservation by matter fields. While this does not solve the fundamental issue of why the cosmological constant has the value that is observed cosmologically, it is indeed a viable theory that resolves the problem of the discrepancy between the vacuum energy density and the observed value of the cosmological constant. However, one has to check that, as well as preserving the standard cosmological equations, this does not destroy other predictions, such as the junction conditions that underlie the use of standard stellar models. We confirm that no problems arise here: hence, the trace-free Einstein equations are indeed viable for cosmological and astrophysical applications.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, April 19, 2022 - 4:21:13 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, April 20, 2022 - 3:40:10 AM

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George F. R. Ellis, Henk van Elst, Jeff Murugan, Jean-Philippe Uzan. On the trace-free Einstein equations as a viable alternative to general relativity. Classical and Quantum Gravity, 2011, 28, ⟨10.1088/0264-9381/28/22/225007⟩. ⟨insu-03645855⟩

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