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Physical Review D - Particles and Fields


Department of Physics and Astronomy


We investigate the role of nonperturbative, bubble-like inhomogeneities on the decay rate of false- vacuum states in two and three-dimensional scalar field theories. The inhomogeneities are induced by setting up large-amplitude oscillations of the field about the false vacuum as, for example, after a rapid quench or in certain models of cosmological inflation. We show that, for a wide range of parameters, the presence of large-amplitude bubble-like inhomogeneities greatly accelerates the de- cay rate, changing it from the well-known exponential suppression of homogeneous nucleation to a power-law suppression. It is argued that this fast, power-law vacuum decay – known as resonant nu- cleation – is promoted by the presence of long-lived oscillons among the nonperturbative fluctuations about the false vacuum. A phase diagram is obtained distinguishing three possible mechanisms for vacuum decay: homogeneous nucleation, resonant nucleation, and cross-over. Possible applications are briefly discussed.



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