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Barrientos, Jose; Cordonier-Tello, Fabrizio; Izaurieta, Fernando; Medina, Perla; Narbona, Daniela; Rodriguez, Eduardo and Valdivia, Omar (2017): Nonminimal couplings, gravitational waves, and torsion in Horndeski's theory. In: Physical Review D, Vol. 96, No. 8, 84023

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The Horndeski Lagrangian brings together all possible interactions between gravity and a scalar field that yield second-order field equations in four-dimensional spacetime. As originally proposed, it only addresses phenomenology without torsion, which is a non-Riemannian feature of geometry. Since torsion can potentially affect interesting phenomena such as gravitational waves and early universe inflation, in this paper we allow torsion to exist and propagate within the Horndeski framework. To achieve this goal, we cast the Horndeski Lagrangian in Cartan's first-order formalism and introduce wave operators designed to act covariantly on p-form fields that carry Lorentz indices. We find that nonminimal couplings and second-order derivatives of the scalar field in the Lagrangian are indeed generic sources of torsion. Metric perturbations couple to the background torsion, and new torsional modes appear. These may be detected via gravitational waves but not through Yang-Mills gauge bosons.

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