We derive the one-loop effective action to second order in gradients. This expansion of the effective action is useful to study problems in cosmological settings where spatial or time gradients are important, such as bubble nucleation in strong first-order phase transitions. Assuming space-time dependent background fields, we work in Wigner space and perform a midpoint gradient expansion, which is consistent with the equation of motion satisfied by the propagator. In particular, we consider the fact that the propagator is non-trivially constrained by an additional equation of motion, obtained from symmetry requirements. We show the calculations for the case of a single scalar field and then generalise the result to the multi-field case. While we find a vanishing result in the single field case, the one-loop second-order gradient corrections can be significant when considering multiple fields. Finally, we apply our result to a simple toy model of two scalar fields with canonical kinetic terms and mass mixing at tree-level.
- Pub Date:
- August 2022
- High Energy Physics - Theory;
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics;
- High Energy Physics - Phenomenology
- 24 pages, references added in v2