|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
According to inflation theory, the inflaton is a hypothetical scalar field (and, as with most quantum fields, an individual quantised particle for this field will also be called an "inflaton") that are hypothesized to be responsible for cosmic inflation in the very early universe. The field provides a mechanism by which a period of rapid expansion from 10−35 to 10−34 seconds after the initial expansion can be generated, forming the universe.
The basic process of inflation consists of three steps:
- Prior to the expansion period, the inflaton field was at a higher-energy state.
- Random quantum fluctuations triggered a phase transition whereby the inflaton field released its potential energy as matter and radiation as it settled to its lowest-energy state.
- This action generated a repulsive force that drove the portion of the universe that is observable to us today to expand from approximately 10−50 metres in radius at 10−35 seconds to almost 1 metre in radius at 10−34 seconds.
The inflaton field's lowest energy state may or may not be a zero energy state. This depends on the chosen potential energy density of the field.
- Metric expansion of space
- Hubble's law
- Big bang
- Cosmological constant
- Inflation (cosmology)
- Non-minimally coupled inflation
|This relativity-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|