Dissipative effects in the Early Universe
Metcalf, Thomas Patrick
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Inflationary cosmology is the leading candidate for explaining the homogeneity, isotropy and spatial flatness of the universe whilst also providing the mechanism for the seeding of large scale structure. The central theme of inflationary dynamics involves the evolution of a scalar field, called the inflaton, such that its potential drives an accelerated expansion. Warm inflation is the dynamical realization in which interactions between the inflaton and other fields can lead to dissipation of inflaton energy to other dynamical degrees of freedom. Heavy fields coupled to the inflaton mediate the transfer of inflaton energy to light degrees of freedom which thermalize and heat the universe. This damps the inflaton’s motion and allows for the potential formation of a thermal bath during the inflationary period. Hybrid inflation models are a natural way in which warm inflation can be realized, with dissipation of inflaton energy mediated by the waterfall fields to fields in the light sector. In this thesis I outline the dynamics and observational predictions of supersymmetric hybrid inflation driven by radiative corrections in the warm regime. As in the standard cold inflationary scenario inflation ends when the effective mass squared of the waterfall field becomes negative, with the tachyonic instability driving the system to a global minimum in a process called the waterfall transition. I present the effect of including thermal mass corrections to the waterfall fields, and SUSY mass splittings on the quantum effective potential and the resulting dissipation coefficient. I show that including dissipative effects can significantly prolong the inflationary period to produce 50-60 e-folds of inflation with an observationally consistent primordial spectrum. Inflation still requires a microphysical description within a fundamental theory of quantum gravity. This has prompted the search for inflaton candidates within the superabundance of scalar fields present in string theory compactifications, with brane-antibrane inflation in particular emerging as a concrete implementation of SUSY hybrid inflation in a UV complete particle physics model. Inflation proceeds in a brane-antibrane system through the movement of a stack of branes towards a stack of antibranes, with the inflaton field being the interbrane distance. Warm inflation can be implemented in a brane-antibrane system with dissipation of inflaton energy mediated by fields corresponding to strings stretched between the brane and antibrane stacks. It has been shown that this dissipation of inflaton energy in warm inflation can greatly alleviate the η-problem in brane-antibrane scenarios. Whilst these strings mediating dissipation have end points fixed on to both the D3 and D3 stacks, the compact nature of the geometry within which the system is constructed allows these strings to have different winding modes. We investigated how strings with increasing winding number can provide an enhancement to the dissipation coefficient, allowing a significant reduction in the number of branes and antibranes in the warm inflation system, whilst also modifying the inflationary dynamics by reducing the speed at which the system evolves. This may go some way to alleviating the η-problem associated with some constructions of brane-antibrane inflation whilst also potentially providing the best way to motivate the large field multiplicities associated with warm inflation models.