The scalar perturbation induced gravitational waves are a probe of the primordial density perturbation spectrum on small scales. In this paper, we show that they can also probe the thermal history of the universe. We assume the universe underwent a stage with a constant equation of state parameter w, followed by the radiation-dominated stage of the conventional bigbang universe. We find that the infrared slope of the power spectrum of the induced stochastic gravitational wave background for decelerating cosmologies is related to the equation of state of the universe. Furthermore, the induced gravitational wave spectrum has in general a broken power-law shape around the scale of reheating. Interestingly, below the threshold w=0 of the equation of state parameter, the broken power-law presents a peak for a dirac delta peak in the scalar spectrum. For a finite width peak, the threshold changes to w=1/15 depending on the value of the width. In some cases, such a broken power-law gravitational wave spectrum may degenerate to the spectrum from other sources like phase transitions or global cosmic strings.

G. Domènech, S. Pi, and M. Sasaki, “Induced gravitational waves as a probe of thermal history of the universe”, JCAP 08 (2020) 017.


Related to Project: B01