Missing link: A nonlinear post-Friedmann framework for small and large scales

Irene Milillo, Daniele Bertacca, Marco Bruni, Andrea Maselli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)


We present a nonlinear post-Friedmann framework for structure formation, generalizing to cosmology the weak-field (post-Minkowskian) approximation, unifying the treatment of small and large scales. We consider a universe filled with a pressureless fluid and a cosmological constant Λ, the theory of gravity is Einstein's general relativity and the background is the standard flat ΛCDM cosmological model. We expand the metric and the energy-momentum tensor in powers of 1/c, keeping the matter density and peculiar velocity as exact fundamental variables. We assume the Poisson gauge, including scalar and tensor modes up to 1/c4 order and vector modes up to 1/c5 terms. Through a redefinition of the scalar potentials as a resummation of the metric contributions at different orders, we obtain a complete set of nonlinear equations, providing a unified framework to study structure formation from small to superhorizon scales, from the nonlinear Newtonian to the linear relativistic regime. We explicitly show the validity of our scheme in the two limits: at leading order we recover the fully nonlinear equations of Newtonian cosmology; when linearized, our equations become those for scalar and vector modes of first-order relativistic perturbation theory in the Poisson gauge. Tensor modes are nondynamical at the 1/c4 order we consider (gravitational waves only appear at higher order): they are purely nonlinear and describe a distortion of the spatial slices determined at this order by a constraint, quadratic in the scalar and vector variables. The main results of our analysis are as follows: (a) at leading order a purely Newtonian nonlinear energy current sources a frame-dragging gravitomagnetic vector potential, and (b) in the leading-order Newtonian regime and in the linear relativistic regime, the two scalar metric potentials are the same, while the nonlinearity of general relativity makes them different. Possible applications of our formalism include the calculations of the vector potential [1,2] and the difference between the two scalar potentials from Newtonian N-body simulations, and the extension of Newtonian approximations used in structure formation studies, to include relativistic effects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number023519
Pages (from-to)-
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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