We investigate various problems related to the theory of the electroweak phase transition. This includes determination of the nature of the phase transition, discussion of the possible role of the higher-order radiative corrections, and the theory of the formation and evolution of bubbles of the new phase. We show, in particular, that no dangerous linear terms in the scalar field appear in the expression for the effective potential. We have found that, for the Higgs-boson mass smaller than the masses of W and Z bosons, the phase transition is of the first order. However, its strength is approximately times less than what follows from the one-loop approximation. The phase transition occurs due to production and expansion of critical bubbles. Subcritical bubbles may be important only if the phase transition is very weakly first order. A general analytic expression for the probability of the bubble formation is obtained, which may be used for study of tunneling in a wide class of theories. The bubble-wall velocity depends on many factors, including the ratio of the mean free path of the particles to the thickness of the wall. Thin walls in the electroweak theory have a nonrelativistic velocity, whereas thick walls may be relativistic. A decrease of the cubic term by the factor rules out baryogenesis in the minimal version of the electroweak theory. Even though we concentrate in this paper on the phase transition in this theory, most of our results can be applied to more general models as well, where baryogenesis is possible.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)