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Fundamental cosmic strings

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Cosmic strings are linear concentrations of energy that may be formed at phase transitions in the very early universe. At one time they were thought to provide a possible origin for the density inhomogeneities from which galaxies eventually develop, though this idea has been ruled out, primarily by observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Fundamental strings are the supposed building blocks of all matter in superstring theory or its modern version, M-theory. These two concepts were originally very far apart, but recent developments have brought them closer. The ‘brane-world' scenario in particular suggests the existence of macroscopic fundamental strings that could well play a role very similar to that of cosmic strings. In this paper, we outline these new developments, and also analyse recent observational evidence, and prospects for the future.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: DAMTP, University of Cambridge, CMS, Wilberforce Road, Cambridge, CB3 0WA, UK 2: Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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