The topic of cosmic strings provides a bridge between the physics of the very small and the very large. They are predicted by some unified theories of particle interactions. If they exist, they may help to explain some of the largest-scale structures seen in the Universe today. They are `topological defects' that may have been formed at phase transitions in the very early history of the Universe, analogous to those found in some condensed-matter systems --- vortex lines in liquid helium, flux tubes in type-II superconductors, or disclination lines in liquid crystals. In this review, we describe what they are, why they have been hypothesized and what their cosmological implications would be. The relevant background from the standard models of particle physics and cosmology is described in section 1. In section 2, we review the idea of symmetry breaking in field theories, and show how the defects formed are constrained by the topology of the manifold of degenerate vacuum states. We also discuss the different types of cosmic strings that can appear in different field theories. Section 3 is devoted to the dynamics of cosmic strings, and section 4 to their interaction with other fields. The formation and evolution of cosmic strings in the early Universe is the subject of section 5, while section 6 deals with their observational implications. Finally, the present status of the theory is reviewed in section 7.
Reports on Progress in Physics
- Pub Date:
- May 1995
- High Energy Physics - Phenomenology;
- High Energy Physics - Theory
- 120pp Plain TeX (IOP preprint.sty file included) + 18/19 self-unpacking .ps figures. TeX twice to get citation numbering. Submitted to Reports on Progress in Physics