Decay of the de Sitter vacuum

Paul R. Anderson, Emil Mottola, Dillon H. Sanders
2018 Physical Review D  
The decay rate of the Bunch-Davies state of a massive scalar field in the expanding flat spatial sections of de Sitter space is determined by an analysis of the particle pair creation process in real time. The Feynman definition of particle and antiparticle Fourier mode solutions of the scalar wave equation, and their adiabatic phase analytically continued to the complexified time domain, show conclusively that the Bunch-Davies state is not the vacuum state at late times. The closely analogous
more » ... reation of charged particle pairs in a uniform electric field is reviewed and Schwinger's result for the vacuum decay rate is recovered by the real time analysis. The vacuum decay rate in each case is also calculated by switching the background field on adiabatically, allowing it to act for a very long time, and then adiabatically switching it off again. In both the uniform electric field and de Sitter cases the particles created while the field is switched on are verified to be real, in the sense that they persist in the final asymptotic flat zero-field region. In the de Sitter case there is an interesting residual dependence of the rate on how the de Sitter phase is ended, indicating a greater sensitivity to spatial boundary conditions. The electric current of the created particles in the E-field case and their energy density and pressure in the de Sitter case are also computed, and the magnitude of their backreaction effects on the background field estimated. Possible consequences of the Hubble scale instability of the de Sitter vacuum for cosmology, vacuum dark energy, and the cosmological 'constant' problem are discussed.
doi:10.1103/physrevd.97.065016 fatcat:coqvqdu6zrenjlydxj6hocng7u