Gravity waves and non-Gaussian features from particle production in a sector gravitationally coupled to the inflaton

Neil Barnaby, Jordan Moxon, Ryo Namba, Marco Peloso, Gary Shiu, Peng Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


We study the possibility that particle production during inflation could source observable gravity waves on scales relevant for cosmic microwave background experiments. A crucial constraint on such scenarios arises because particle production can also source inflaton perturbations and might ruin the usual predictions for a nearly scale-invariant spectrum of nearly Gaussian curvature fluctuations. To minimize this effect, we consider two models of particle production in a sector that is only gravitationally coupled to the inflaton. For a single instantaneous burst of massive particle production, we find that localized features in the scalar spectrum and bispectrum might be observable, but gravitational wave signatures are unlikely to be detectable (due to the suppressed quadrupole moment of nonrelativistic quanta) without invoking some additional effects. We also consider a model with a rolling pseudoscalar that leads to a continuous production of relativistic gauge field fluctuations during inflation. Here we find that gravitational waves from particle production can actually exceed the usual inflationary vacuum fluctuations in a regime where non-Gaussianity is consistent with observational limits. In this model observable B-mode polarization can be obtained for any choice of inflaton potential, and the amplitude of the signal is not necessarily correlated with the scale of inflation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103508
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 6 2012

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