Acoustic oscillations and viscosity

Roy Maartens*, Josep Triginer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a simple thermo-hydrodynamic model that respects relativistic causality, we reexamine the analysis of the qualitative features of acoustic oscillations in the photon-baryon fluid. The growing photon mean free path introduces transient effects that can be modelled by the causal generalization of relativistic Navier-Stokes-Fourier theory. Causal thermodynamics provides a more satisfactory hydrodynamic approximation to kinetic theory than the quasi-stationary (and non-causal) approximations arising from standard thermodynamics or from expanding the photon distribution to first order in Thomson scattering time. The causal approach introduces small corrections to the dispersion relation obtained in quasi-stationary treatments. A dissipative contribution to the speed of sound slightly increases the frequency of the oscillations. The diffusion damping scale is slightly increased by the causal corrections. Thus quasi-stationary approximations tend to over-estimate the spacing and under-estimate the damping of acoustic peaks. In our simple model, the fractional corrections at decoupling are ≳10-2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123507
Pages (from-to)123507
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 1998


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