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Physical Review D


Spontaneous symmetry breaking usually occurs due to the tachyonic (spinodal) instability of a scalar field near the top of its effective potential at φ=0. Naively, one might expect the field φ to fall from the top of the effective potential and then experience a long stage of oscillations with amplitude O(v) near the minimum of the effective potential at φ=v until it gives its energy to particles produced during these oscillations. However, it was recently found that the tachyonic instability rapidly converts most of the potential energy V(0) into the energy of colliding classical waves of the scalar field. This conversion, which was called “tachyonic preheating,” is so efficient that symmetry breaking typically completes within a single oscillation of the field distribution as it rolls towards the minimum of its effective potential [G. Felder et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 87, 011601 (2001)]. In this paper we give a detailed description of tachyonic preheating and show that the dynamics of this process crucially depends on the shape of the effective potential near its maximum. In the simplest models where V(φ)∼−m2φ2/2 near the maximum, the process occurs solely due to the tachyonic instability, whereas in the theories −λφn with n>2 one encounters a combination of the effects of tunneling, tachyonic instability and bubble wall collisions.







©2001 American Physical Society


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