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December 13, 2004

Kibble Deficit

Topological defects are dangerous cosmologically. One of the original motivations for inflation was to solve the “monopole problem” – that monopoles created in the GUT phase transition would overclose the universe. The basic rule of thumb in the subject is the Kibble Mechanism — that, on average, you get one defect per horizon volume at the time of their formation. This is, obviously, a lower bound on the density of defects: the order-parameter cannot be correlated over length scales larger than the causal horizon. But, in almost all cases, one finds that the correlation volume is of the same order of magnitude as the horizon volume.

String cosmology provides a rich set of topological defects as well. A D3D3-D3¯\overline{D3} pair rolling towards each other (a popular model for brane inflation) can annihilate in to (D- or F- or (p,q)(p,q)-) strings. Non-BPS branes may be temporarily stabilized by finite temperature and decay into lower-dimensional branes when the universe cools below the transition temperature.

One of the striking things about these brane effects is that — in a systematic approximation — they are governed by a DBI action, which is nonpolynomial in derivatives. This can lead to effects dramatically different from naïve field theory expectations. As Alishahiha, Silverstein and Tong noted, the higher-derivative terms in the DBI action can produce slow-roll inflation, even for potentials that are relatively steep. The upper limit on ϕ˙\dot \phi is easy to understand as a causal limit on the velocities of the branes in the extra dimensions.

But, apparently, the same DBI action, which prevents ϕ˙\dot \phi from becoming arbitrarily large, can undermine the Kibble Mechanism. According to Barnaby, Berndsen, Cline and Stoica, because of effects of the DBI action, the correlation volume can be much smaller than the horizon volume. So one gets a density of cosmic strings (or other topological defects) much larger than one per horizon volume.

If true, this could be really important. It would provide really stringent bounds on whole classes of string models, lest they overproduce topological defects in the early universe.

Superficially, I see some plausibility in what they’re saying. First, there’s the aforementioned limit on ϕ˙\dot\phi, which prevents the order parameter from relaxing as efficiently as it would in ordinary field theory. Second, there’s the fact that the action of interest takes the form

(1)S=d 4xV(ϕ)1+(ϕ) 2 S = - \int d^4 x V(\phi) \sqrt{1+(\partial\phi)^2}

where V(ϕ)V(\phi) vanishes at the minimum. This favours large fluctuations of the order parameter as you reach the endpoint of brane-antibrane annihilation. (Personally, I think this just signals the breakdown of the DBI approximation, due to the importance of higher string modes.) Anyway, between these two effects, they claim a much higher density of cosmic string formation (1 per M s 1M_s^{-1}, rather than one per H 1H^{-1}).

Unfortunately, I don’t really understand many of the details of their calculation. Maybe someone can chime in with some explanations…

Posted by distler at December 13, 2004 1:30 AM

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Re: Kibble Deficit

I think it is worth noted that the actions the authors are using, the DBI type action with the overall potential factor, is quite dengerous, because they have not been derived in string theory. The usual DBI actions are built on a very firm basis in which the notion of “low energy” limit is quite clear. There the procedure of extracting only the massless fields is validated, and we know to what extent we are allowed to use the action. But as for the tachyon DBI, the situation is very different – First, there is no validation of extracting only the tachyon field, and second, nothing can ensure the higher derivative terms. The tachyon DBI action was shown to reproduce spatially homogeneous rolling tachyon CFT results, but that’s it. We don’t know if that action is valid for spatially inhomogeneous profiles which are the subject of this paper. And, massive excitation modes should come into play on the same footing as the tachyon field, since they have the same mass scale.

Although I feel that their analyses are based on a huge assumptions, qualitatively I agree with their result. The essential result by Sen on homogeneous tachyon rolling is that there is no endpoint in the rolling. We call the final state tachyon matter, but no one yet knows what it is. The result of this paper, I think, is solely due to the fact that string theory tachyon condensation has no endpoint, and thus the tachyon field cannot bounce back to the origin in order to relax the initial defect density. Though the calculations are based on the hypothetical actions, I agree with their implications qualitatively.

However, this issue of the endpoint of the rolling is still an issue in string theory, because in cubic string field theories the potential minima are located at finite distance from the top of the hill and seems to contradict the BSFT/BCFT results. This issue should be clarified in a formal side.

Posted by: Koji Hashimoto on December 21, 2004 2:56 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

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