Stochastic Background of Gravitational Waves from Fermions. Theory and Applications
Out-of-equilibrium fermions can be created in the early Universe by non-perturbative parametric effects, both at preheating or during the thermal era. An anisotropic stress is developed in the fermion distribution, acting as a source of a stochastic background of gravitational waves (GW). We derive a general formalism to calculate the spectrum of GW produced by an ensemble of fermions, which we apply to a variety of scenarios after inflation. We discuss in detail the regularization of the source, i.e. of the unequal-time-correlator of the fermions' transverse-traceless anisotropic stress. We discuss how the GW spectrum builds up in time and present a simple parametrization of its final amplitude and peak frequency. We find that fermions may generate a GW background with a significant amplitude at very high frequencies, similarly to the case of preheating with scalar fields. A detection of this GW background would shed light about the physics of the very early Universe, but new technology at high frequencies is required, beyond the range accessible to currently planned detectors.