All publications

New perspectives on constant-roll inflation

Date of publication: 

2017-09-11 17:00:00


Francesco Cicciarella (Pisa U.) , Joel Mabillard (U. Edinburgh, Higgs Ctr. Theor. Phys.) , Mauro Pieroni (Madrid, IFT & Madrid, Autonoma U.)

We study constant-roll inflation using the β-function formalism. We show that the constant rate of the inflaton roll is translated into a first order differential equation for the β-function which can be solved easily. The solutions to this equation correspond to the usual constant-roll models. We then construct, by perturbing these exact solutions, more general classes of models that satisfy the constant-roll equation asymptotically. In the case of an asymptotic power law solution, these corrections naturally provide an end to the inflationary phase. Interestingly, while from a theoretical point of view (in particular in terms of the holographic interpretation) these models are intrinsically different from standard slow-roll inflation, they may have phenomenological predictions in good agreement with present cosmological data.

Neutrino masses, leptogenesis and dark matter From small lepton number violation?

Date of publication: 

2017-09-05 14:00:00


Asmaa Abada, Giorgio Arcadi, Valerie Domcke and Michele Lucente.

We consider the possibility of simultaneously addressing the baryon asymmetry of the Universe, the dark matter problem and the neutrino mass generation in minimal extensions of the Standard Model via sterile fermions with (small) total lepton number violation. Within the framework of Inverse and Linear Seesaw models, the small lepton number violating parameters set the mass scale of the active neutrinos, the efficiency of leptogenesis through a small mass splitting between pairs of sterile fermions as well as the mass scale of a sterile neutrino dark matter candidate. We provide an improved parametrization of these seesaw models taking into account existing experimental constraints and derive a linearized system of Boltzmann equations to describe the leptogenesis process, which allows for an efficient investigation of the parameter space. This in particular enables us to perform a systematic study of the strong washout regime of leptogenesis. Our study reveals that one can have a successful leptogenesis at the temperature of the electroweak scale through oscillations between two sterile states with a natural origin of the (necessary) strong degeneracy in their mass spectrum. The minimal model however requires a non-standard cosmological history to account for the relic dark matter. Finally, we discuss the prospect for neutrinoless double beta decay and for testing, in future experiments, the values of mass and different active-sterile mixings required for successful leptogenesis.

Witnessing the reionization history using Cosmic Microwave Background observation from Planck

Date of publication: 

2017-08-16 14:00:00


Dhiraj Kumar Hazra, George F. Smoot.

We constrain the history of reionization using the data from Planck 2015 Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) temperature and polarization anisotropy observations. We also use prior constraints on the reionization history at redshifts ∼7−8 obtained from Lyman-α emission observations. Using the free electron fractions at different redshifts as free parameters, we construct the complete reionization history using polynomials. Our construction provides an extremely flexible framework to search for the history of reionization as a function of redshifts. We present a conservative and an optimistic constraint on reionization that are categorized by the flexibilities of the models and datasets used to constrain them, and we report that CMB data marginally favors extended reionization histories. In both the cases, we find the mean values of optical depth to be larger (≈0.09 and 0.1) than what we find in standard steplike reionization histories (0.079±0.017). At the same time we also find that the maximum free electron fraction allowed by the data for redshifts more than 15 is ∼0.25 at 95.4\% confidence limit in the case of optimistic constraint.

PBH dark matter from axion inflation

Date of publication: 

2017-04-11 15:00:00


Valerie Domcke, Francesco Muia, Mauro Pieroni, Lukas T. Witkowski

Protected by an approximate shift symmetry, axions are well motivated candidates for driving cosmic inflation. Their generic coupling to the Chern-Simons term of any gauge theory gives rise to a wide range of potentially observable signatures, including equilateral non-Gaussianites in the CMB, chiral gravitational waves in the range of direct gravitational wave detectors and primordial black holes (PBHs). In this paper we revisit these predictions for axion inflation models non-minimally coupled to gravity. Contrary to the case of minimally coupled models which typically predict scale-invariant mass distributions for the generated PBHs at small scales, we demonstrate how broadly peaked PBH spectra naturally arises in this setup. For specific parameter values, all of dark matter can be accounted for by PBHs.

Dedicated to the memory of Pierre Binétruy

Detection prospects for the Cosmic Neutrino Background using laser interferometers

Date of publication: 

2017-04-11 10:00:00


Valerie Domcke, Martin Spinrath

The cosmic neutrino background is a key prediction of Big Bang cosmology which has not been observed yet. The movement of the earth through this neutrino bath creates a force on a pendulum, as if it was exposed to a cosmic wind. We revise here estimates for the resulting pendulum acceleration and compare it to the theoretical sensitivity of an experimental setup where the pendulum position is measured using current laser interferometer technology as employed in gravitational wave detectors. We discuss how a significant improvement of this setup can be envisaged in a micro gravity environment. The proposed setup could simultaneously function as a dark matter detector in the sub-MeV range, which currently eludes direct detection constraints.

Universality in generalized models of inflation

Date of publication: 

2017-04-06 11:00:00


Pierre Binétruy, Joel Mabillard, Mauro Pieroni


We discuss the cosmological evolution of a scalar field with non standard kinetic term in terms of a Renormalization Group Equation (RGE). In this framework inflation corresponds to the slow evolution in a neighborhood of a fixed point and universality classes for inflationary models naturally arise. Using some examples we show the application of the formalism. The predicted values for the speed of sound and for the amount of non-Gaussianities produced in these models are discussed. In particular, we show that it is possible to introduce models with speed of sound that can be in agreement with present cosmological observations.

A Unified Model of D-Term Inflation

Date of publication: 

2017-02-07 11:00:00


Valerie Domcke, Kai Schmitz

Hybrid inflation, driven by a Fayet-Iliopoulos (FI) D term, is an intriguing inflationary model. In its usual formulation, it however suffers from several shortcomings. These pertain to the origin of the FI mass scale, the stability of scalar fields during inflation, gravitational corrections in supergravity, as well as to the latest constraints from the cosmic microwave background. We demonstrate that these issues can be remedied if D-term inflation is realized in the context of strongly coupled supersymmetric gauge theories. We suppose that the D term is generated in consequence of dynamical supersymmetry breaking. Moreover, we assume canonical kinetic terms in the Jordan frame as well as an approximate shift symmetry along the inflaton direction. This provides us with a unified picture of D-term inflation and high-scale supersymmetry breaking. The D term may be associated with a gauged U(1)_B-L, so that the end of inflation spontaneously breaks B-L in the visible sector.

Science with the space-based interferometer LISA. IV: Probing inflation with gravitational waves

Date of publication: 

2016-12-25 11:00:00


Nicola Bartolo, Chiara Caprini, Valerie Domcke, Daniel G. Figueroa, Juan Garcia-Bellido, Maria Chiara Guzzetti, Michele Liguori, Sabino Matarrese, Marco Peloso, Antoine Petiteau, Angelo Ricciardone, Mairi Sakellariadou, Lorenzo Sorbo, Gianmassimo Tasinato

We investigate the potential for the LISA space-based interferometer to detect the stochastic gravitational wave background produced from different mechanisms during inflation. Focusing on well-motivated scenarios, we study the resulting contributions from particle production during inflation, inflationary spectator fields with varying speed of sound, effective field theories of inflation with specific patterns of symmetry breaking and models leading to the formation of primordial black holes. The projected sensitivities of LISA are used in a model-independent way for various detector designs and configurations. We demonstrate that LISA is able to probe these well-motivated inflationary scenarios beyond the irreducible vacuum tensor modes expected from any inflationary background.

Supergravity Contributions to Inflation in models with non-minimal coupling to gravity

Date of publication: 

2016-12-21 11:00:00


Kumar Das, Valerie Domcke, Koushik Dutta

This paper provides a systematic study of supergravity contributions relevant for inflationary model building in Jordan frame supergravity. In this framework, canonical kinetic terms in the Jordan frame result in the separation of the Jordan frame scalar potential into a tree-level term and a supergravity contribution, which is potentially dangerous for sustaining inflation. We show that if the vacuum energy necessary for driving inflation originates dominantly from the F-term of an auxiliary field (i.e. not the inflaton), the supergravity corrections to the Jordan frame scalar potential are generically suppressed. Moreover, these supergravity contributions identically vanish if the superpotential W vanishes along the inflationary trajectory. On the other hand, if the F-term associated with the inflaton dominates the vacuum energy, the supergravity contributions are generically comparable to the globally supersymmetric contributions. In addition, the non-minimal coupling to gravity inherent to Jordan frame supergravity significantly impacts the inflationary model depending on the size and sign of this coupling. We discuss the phenomenology of some representative inflationary models, and point out the relation to the recently much discussed cosmological `attractor' models.

Universality for quintessence

Date of publication: 

2016-11-30 11:00:00


F. Cicciarella, M. Pieroni

Abstract :

Several recent works suggested the possibility of describing inflation by means of a renormalization group equation. In this paper we discuss the application of these methods to models of quintessence. In this framework a period of exponential expansion corresponds to the slow evolution of the scalar field in the neighborhood of a fixed point. A minimal set of universality classes for models of quintessence is defined and the transition from a matter dominated to quintessence dominated universe is studied. Models in which quintessence is non-minimally coupled with gravity are also discussed. We show that the formalism proves to be extremely convenient to describe quintessence and moreover we find that in most of the models discussed in this work quintessence naturally takes over ordinary matter.


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