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This article is about a particle/quantum field posited in cosmology. For a general rise in the level of prices, see Inflation. For other uses of "inflation", see Inflation (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Instanton.

The inflaton field is a hypothetical scalar field that is theorized[according to whom?] to drive cosmic inflation [1] in the very early universe.[2] [3] 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 a universe consistent with observed spatial isotropy and homogeneity.

Cosmological inflation[edit]

Main article: Inflation (cosmology)

The basic[clarification needed] model of inflation proceeds in three phases:

  • high-energy state
  • phase transition
  • repulsive growth

High-energy state[edit]

Initially, the inflaton field is at a high-energy state.[why?]

Phase transition[edit]

Eventually[why?], random quantum fluctuations trigger a phase transition whereby the potential energy of the inflaton field is released as matter and radiant energy (radiation). The inflaton field settles to its lowest-energy state.

Repulsive growth[edit]

This action[clarification needed] generates a repulsive force[why?] that drives 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[clarification needed].

Field quanta[edit]

Similar to other quantum fields[clarification needed], a quantized particle for the inflaton field is expected[according to whom?]. The field quanta of the inflaton field is known as inflaton. Depending on the modeled potential energy density, the inflaton field's ground state may or may not be zero.

The term inflaton follows the typical naming style[clarification needed] of other quantum particles (such as photon, gluon, boson and fermion), deriving from the word inflation. The term was first used in a paper entitled ‘After Primordial Inflation’ by, D.V. Nanopoulos, K.A. Olive and M. Srednicki.[4]

Atkins (2012) has suggested that a modified[how?] version of the Higgs boson could act[clarification needed] as an inflaton.[5]

See also[edit]