Dissertation: New horizons in string theory: bubble babble in search of darkness

  • Date:
  • Location: Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1 Häggsalen, 10132
  • Doctoral student: Suvendu Giri
  • Contact person: Suvendu Giri
  • Disputation

Suvendu Giri defends his thesis New horizons in string theory: bubble babble in search of darkness. The dissertation is given in English.


It was discovered nearly two decades ago that we live in an accelerating universe that is dominated by dark energy. Understanding the origin of such an energy has turned out to be a very difficult open question in physics, and calls on the need for a fundamental theory like string theory. However, despite decades-long effort, string theory has proven incredibly resilient to a satisfactory construction of dark energy within its framework.

In the first part of this thesis and the included papers, we examine this problem and propose two possible solutions. The first is a construction within the framework of M-theory, the eleven dimensional cousin of string theory. Using only well-understood geometric ingredients and higher-derivative corrections to eleven dimensional supergravity, we present a new class of four dimensional vacua that contain dark energy. In the process, we also construct a new class of non-supersymmetric Minkowski vacua that were previously not known. Our second idea is a novel proposal that our universe could be embedded on the surface of an enormous spherical bubble that is expanding in a five dimensional anti de Sitter spacetime. The bubble is made of branes in string theory and its expansion is driven by the difference in the cosmological constants across it. We argued that such a construction arises naturally in string theory, and showed how four dimensional gravity arises in such a universe. We further showed that four dimensional matter and radiation arise from quantities that are innately five dimensional.

Another challenging problem in physics concerns the nature of black holes – the presence of an event horizon in particular. This poses a paradox between well understood physical principles, and requires a fundamental theory for its resolution. Towards this goal, we constructed a novel class of horizonless objects that mimic black holes, and proposed these objects as an alternative end point of gravitational collapse. Subsequently, we constructed slowly rotating versions of these "black shells" and proposed an observational signature that could distinguish them from black holes in cosmological experiments. This is discussed in the second part of the thesis and in the included papers.