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In this paper I explore whether a vector field can be the origin of the present stage of cosmic acceleration. In order to avoid violations of isotropy, the vector has be part of a ``cosmic triad'', that is, a set of three identical vectors pointing in mutually orthogonal spatial directions. A triad is indeed able to drive a stage of late accelerated expansion in the universe, and there exist tracking attractors that render cosmic evolution insensitive to initial conditions. However, as in most other models, the onset of cosmic acceleration is determined by a parameter that has to be tuned to reproduce current observations. The triad equation of state can be sufficiently close to minus one today, and for tachyonic models it might be even less than that. I briefly analyze linear cosmological perturbation theory in the presence of a triad. It turns out that the existence of non-vanishing spatial vectors invalidates the decomposition theorem, i.e. scalar, vector and tensor perturbations do not decouple from each other. In a simplified case it is possible to analytically study the stability of the triad along the different cosmological attractors. The triad is classically stable during inflation, radiation and matter domination, but it is unstable during (late-time) cosmic acceleration. I argue that this instability is not likely to have a significant impact at present.

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28 pages, 6 figures. Uses RevTeX4. v2: Discussion about relation to phantoms added and additional references cited More information at


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