Slow-roll inflation is a successful paradigm. However we find that even a small coupling of the inflaton to other light fields can dramatically alter the dynamics and predictions of inflation. As an example, the inflaton can generically have an axion-like coupling to gauge bosons. Even relatively small couplings will automatically induce a thermal bath during inflation. The thermal friction from this bath can easily be stronger than Hubble friction, significantly altering the usual predictions of any particular inflaton potential. Thermal effects suppress the tensor-to-scalar ratio $r$ significantly, and predict unique non-gaussianities. This axion-like coupling provides a minimal model of warm inflation which avoids the usual problem of thermal backreaction on the inflaton potential. As a specific example, we find that hybrid inflation with this axion-like coupling can easily fit the current cosmological data.
- Pub Date:
- October 2019
- High Energy Physics - Phenomenology;
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics;
- High Energy Physics - Theory
- 18 pages, 1 figure, v2: We added additional references and clarifying comments in the introduction. We added an estimate on thermalization in section III, and an additional comment on cosine-like potentials in section IV, and a footnote commenting on equation 12. v2 matches published version