We explore the consequences of the existence of a very large number of light scalar degrees of freedom in the early universe. We distinguish between participator and spectator fields. The former have a small mass, and can contribute to the inflationary dynamics; the latter are either strictly massless or have a negligible VEV. In N-flation and generic assisted inflation scenarios, inflation is a cooperative phenomenon driven by N participator fields, none of which could drive inflation on its own. We review upper bounds on N, as a function of the inflationary Hubble scale H. We then consider stochastic and eternal inflation in models with N participator fields showing that individual fields may evolve stochastically while the whole ensemble behaves deterministically, and that a wide range of eternal inflationary scenarios are possible in this regime. We then compute one-loop quantum corrections to the inflationary power spectrum. These are largest with N spectator fields and a single participator field, and the resulting bound on N is always weaker than those obtained in other ways. We find that loop corrections to the N-flation power spectrum do not scale with N, and thus place no upper bound on the number of participator fields. This result also implies that, at least to leading order, the theory behaves like a composite single scalar field. In order to perform this calculation, we address a number of issues associated with loop calculations in the Schwinger-Keldysh "in-in" formalism.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology|
|State||Published - Mar 2 2009|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)