Stochastic inflation in phase space: is slow roll a stochastic attractor?

Julien Grain, Vincent Vennin

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An appealing feature of inflationary cosmology is the presence of a phase-space attractor, "slow roll", which washes out the dependence on initial field velocities. We investigate the robustness of this property under backreaction from quantum fluctuations using the stochastic inflation formalism in the phase-space approach. A Hamiltonian formulation of stochastic inflation is presented, where it is shown that the coarse-graining procedure - where wavelengths smaller than the Hubble radius are integrated out - preserves the canonical structure of free fields. This means that different sets of canonical variables give rise to the same probability distribution which clarifies the literature with respect to this issue. The role played by the quantum-to-classical transition is also analysed and is shown to constrain the coarse-graining scale. In the case of free fields, we find that quantum diffusion is aligned in phase space with the slow-roll direction. This implies that the classical slow-roll attractor is immune to stochastic effects and thus generalises to a stochastic attractor regardless of initial conditions, with a relaxation time at least as short as in the classical system. For non-test fields or for test fields with non-linear self interactions however, quantum diffusion and the classical slow-roll flow are misaligned. We derive a condition on the coarse-graining scale so that observational corrections from this misalignment are negligible at leading order in slow roll.
Original languageEnglish
Article number045
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2017


  • gr-qc
  • hep-ph
  • hep-th
  • RCUK
  • STFC
  • ST/K00090X/1
  • ST/N000668/1


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