Relativistic scalar fields and the quasi-static approximation in theories of modified gravity

Relativistic scalar fields are ubiquitous in modified theories of gravity. An important tool in understanding their impact on structure formation, especially in the context of N-body simulations, is the quasi-static approximation in which the time evolution of perturbations in the scalar fields is discarded. We show that this approximation must be used with some care by studying linearly perturbed scalar field cosmologies and quantifying the errors that arise from taking the quasi-static limit. We focus on f(R) and chameleon models and link the accuracy of the quasi-static approximation to the fast/slow-roll behaviour of the background and its proximity to {\Lambda}CDM. Investigating a large range of scales, from super- to sub-horizon, we find that slow-rolling ({\Lambda}CDM-like) backgrounds generically result in good quasi-static behaviour, even on (super-)horizon scales. We also discuss how the approximation might affect studying the non-linear growth of structure in numerical N-body simulations.

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Date added: Mon, 14 Oct 13