Dark energy: EFTs and supergravity

Cunillera, Francesc (2022) Dark energy: EFTs and supergravity. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

The subject of this thesis is cosmological implications of string compactifications understood in a broad sense. In the first half of the thesis, we will begin by reviewing the four-dimensional description of the tree-level perturbative type IIB action. We will then introduce a number of open questions in cosmology and their relevance with regards to the remainder of the thesis. We will first explore some of these questions from the perspective of effective field theories motivated by supergravity. In particular, we provide a description of a naturally light dark energy field in terms of the clockwork mechanism and the Dvali-Kaloper-Sorbo four-form mixing. We study its possible UV completion and show a no-go for its embedding within perturbative type IIA supergravity. We also discuss the coincidence problem for dynamical models of dark energy consistent with a quintessence field slowly rolling down a potential slope, of the type one would expect from the asymptotics of moduli space. As it rolls, a tower of heavy states will generically descend, triggering a phase transition in the low energy cosmological dynamics after at most a few hundred Hubble times. As a result, dark energy domination cannot continue indefinitely and there is at least a percentage chance that we find ourselves in the first Hubble epoch.

In the second half of the thesis, we introduce the effects of perturbative and nonperturbative corrections to the tree-level type IIB action. We then focus on obtaining a viable model of quintessence from the type IIB effective field theory. However, we are able to show that such a model must have a non-supersymmetric Minkowski vacuum at leading order. Furthermore, it must necessarily take the form of axion hilltop quintessence. When we consider the effects of quantum fluctuations during the early Universe, we see that such models must have extremely fine-tuned initial conditions to describe a slow-rolling scalar field at present times. We conclude that quintessence faces more challenges than a true cosmological constant, to the point that quintessence is very unattractive for model building modulo a ruling out of the cosmological constant by observations. Following this line of reasoning, we consider whether other perturbative corrections can generate de Sitter solutions in an appropriate setting. In particular, we consider the effects of higher curvature corrections in the Gauss-Bonnet term. Remarkably, we are able to show that, for the particular setting of a fluxed runaway potential motivated by heterotic supergravity, the curvature corrections reduce the space of solutions.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Padilla, Tony
Copeland, Ed
Keywords: Supergravity, Cosmology, Dark energy, String phenomenology
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics > QC170 Atomic physics. Constitution and properties of matter
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Physics and Astronomy
Item ID: 69160
Depositing User: Cunillera Garcia, Francesc
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2022 04:40
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/69160

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