In this contribution, we discuss the cosmological scenario where unstable domain walls are formed in the early universe and their late-time annihilation produces a significant amount of gravitational waves. After describing cosmological constraints on long-lived domain walls, we estimate the typical amplitude and frequency of gravitational waves observed today. We also review possible extensions of the standard model of particle physics that predict the formation of unstable domain walls and can be probed by observation of relic gravitational waves. It is shown that recent results of pulser timing arrays and direct detection experiments partially exclude the relevant parameter space, and that a much wider parameter space can be covered by the next generation of gravitational wave observatories.
Thu, 9 Mar 17
Comments: 25 pages, 4 figures, invited paper to special issue `Gravitational Waves: Prospects after the First Direct Detections’ in `Universe’