Inflating in a trough: single-field effective theory from multiple-field curved valleys Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We examine the motion of light fields near the bottom of a potential valley in a multi-dimensional field space. In the case of two fields we identify three general scales, all of which must be large in order to justify an effective low-energy approximation involving only the light field, $\ell$. (Typically only one of these -- the mass of the heavy field transverse to the trough -- is used in the literature when justifying the truncation of heavy fields.) We explicitly compute the resulting effective field theory, which has the form of a $P(\ell,X)$ model, with $X = - 1/2(\partial \ell)^2$, as a function of these scales. This gives the leading ways each scale contributes to any low-energy dynamics, including (but not restricted to) those relevant for cosmology. We check our results with the special case of a homogeneous roll near the valley floor, placing into a broader context recent cosmological calculations that show how the truncation approximation can fail. By casting our results covariantly in field space, we provide a geometrical criterion for model-builders to decide whether or not the single-field and/or the truncation approximation is justified, identify its leading deviations, and to efficiently extract cosmological predictions.

publication date

  • January 2013