The motion of a pseudo-scalar field X during inflation naturally induces a significant amplification of the gauge fields to which it is coupled. The amplified gauge fields can source characteristic scalar and tensor primordial perturbations. Several phenomenological implications have been discussed in the cases in which (i) X is the inflaton, and (ii) X is a field different from the inflaton, that experiences a temporary speed up during inflation. In this second case, visible sourced gravitational waves (GW) can be produced at the CMB scales without affecting the scalar perturbations, even if the scale of inflation is several orders of magnitude below what is required to produce a visible vacuum GW signal. Perturbativity considerations can be used to limit the regime in which these results are under perturbative control. We revised limits recently claimed for the case (i), and we extend these considerations to the case (ii). We show that, in both cases, these limits are satisfied by the applications that generate signals at CMB scales. Applications that generate gravitational waves and primordial black holes at much smaller scales are at the limit of the validity of this perturbativity analysis, so we expect those results to be valid up to possibly order one corrections.
- cosmological perturbation theory