Breakdown of semiclassical methods in de Sitter space Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Massless interacting scalar fields in de Sitter space have long been known to experience large fluctuations over length scales larger than Hubble distances. A similar situation arises in condensed matter physics in the vicinity of a critical point, and in this better-understood situation these large fluctuations indicate the failure in this regime of mean-field methods. We argue that for non-Goldstone scalars in de Sitter space, these fluctuations can also be interpreted as signaling the complete breakdown of the semi-classical methods widely used throughout cosmology. By power-counting the infrared properties of Feynman graphs in de Sitter space we find that for a massive scalar interacting through a \lambda \phi^4$ interaction, control over the loop approximation is lost for masses smaller than m \simeq \sqrt \lambda H/2\pi, where H is the Hubble scale. We briefly discuss some potential implications for inflationary cosmology.

publication date

  • October 1, 2010