Can conformally coupled modified gravity solve the Hubble tension?

Tal Abadi, Ely D. Kovetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The discrepancy between early-Universe inferences and direct measurements of the Hubble constant, known as the Hubble tension, recently became a pressing subject in high precision cosmology. As a result, a large variety of theoretical models have been proposed to relieve this tension. In this work we analyze a conformally coupled modified gravity (CCMG) model of an evolving gravitational constant due to the coupling of a scalar field to the Ricci scalar, which becomes active around matter-radiation equality, as required for solutions to the Hubble tension based on increasing the sound horizon at recombination. The model is theoretically advantageous as it has only one free parameter in addition to the baseline Λ cold dark matter ones. Inspired by similar recent analyses of so-called early dark energy models, we constrain the CCMG model using a combination of early- and late-Universe cosmological datasets. In addition to the Planck 2018 cosmic microwave background (CMB) anisotropies and weak lensing measurements, baryon acoustic oscillations, and the Supernova H0 for the Equation of State datasets, we also use large-scale structure (LSS) datasets such as the Dark Energy Survey Year 1 and the full-shape power spectrum likelihood from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, including its recent analysis using effective field theory, to check the effect of the CCMG model on the (milder) S8 tension between the CMB and LSS. We find that the CCMG model can slightly relax the Hubble tension, with H0=69.6±1.6 km/s/Mpc at 95% confidence level, while barely affecting the S8 tension. However, current data does not exhibit a strong preference for CCMG over the standard cosmological model. Lastly, we show that the planned CMB-S4 experiment will have the sensitivity required to distinguish between the CCMG model and the more general class of models involving an evolving gravitational constant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023530
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number2
StatePublished - 22 Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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