# Why does the h tensor represent gravity waves?

## Main Question or Discussion Point

What makes it more "gravity-wavy" than the fi or psi scalar of the vector perturbations??? (Im talking about metric perturbations)

Thanks!!!!!!

ChrisVer
Gold Member
What is the difference between a scalar and a tensor?

dextercioby
Homework Helper
What makes it more "gravity-wavy" than the fi or psi scalar of the vector perturbations??? (Im talking about metric perturbations)

Thanks!!!!!!
Can you first figure out why you need to perturb the metric tensor? Then, if you write $g_{\mu\nu} = \eta_{\mu\nu} + \mbox{first order perturbation}$, how do you balance the indices?

Can you first figure out why you need to perturb the metric tensor? Then, if you write $g_{\mu\nu} = \eta_{\mu\nu} + \mbox{first order perturbation}$, how do you balance the indices?
Sorry can you be more explicit? Thanks!

PeterDonis
Mentor
2019 Award
What makes it more "gravity-wavy" than the fi or psi scalar of the vector perturbations??? (Im talking about metric perturbations)
Um, the fact that "gravity waves" are metric perturbations, by definition?

I'm confused about what you're asking here. "Scalar", "vector", "tensor", "gravity wave", etc. are all just labels. If you're asking about why we choose certain labels for certain concepts, I don't see how we're going to answer that here; you'd have to ask the people who came up with the labels. If you're asking about some actual physics, what physics?

Ok, I'll be more clear myself. Im reading mukhanov "physical foundations of cosmology". There he says that metric perturbations can be decomposed in scalar, vector and tensor perturbations. Then he says that the tensor perturbation, represented there with letter "h" are Gravity Waves. Why does he say that for the h fluctuation but not for the scalar fluctuation? (Represented there by greek letters fi or psi)

Hope that helps to make you understand my doubt.

bapowell