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Resonant non-Gaussianity

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Two of the most exciting observables in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, which could deeply impact our picture of the early universe, are non-Gaussianity and tensor modes. A potential detection of tensor modes can be explained in terms of a model of large field inflation. Theoretical considerations suggest that a symmetry should be invoked in order to protect the flatness of the inflaton potential and hence an axion enjoying a shift symmetry is a natural candidate. As main example, I will present a model of inflation in string theory based on axion monodromy. Non-perturbative effects typically correct the axion potential leading to small sinusoidal modulations on top of an otherwise flat slow roll potential. It can be shown analytically that a resonance between the oscillations of the background and the oscillations of the curvature fluctuations is responsible for the production of an observably large non-Gaussian signal. An explicit expression for the shape of this resonant non-Gaussianity is presented. There is essentially no overlap between this shape and the local, equilateral, and orthogonal shapes, and in fact resonant non-Gaussianity is not captured by the simplest version of the effective field theory of inflation. Hopefully the analytic expression for resonant non-Gaussianity will be useful to further observationally constrain this class of models.

This talk is part of the DAMTP Friday GR Seminar series.

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