Benchmarking the cosmological master equations

Thomas Colas, Julien Grain, Vincent Vennin

Submitted on 5 September 2022


Master equations are commonly employed in cosmology to model the effect of additional degrees of freedom, treated as an "environment", onto a given "system". However, they rely on assumptions that are not necessarily satisfied in cosmology, where the environment may be out of equilibrium and the background is dynamical. In this work, we apply the master-equation program to a model that is exactly solvable, and which consists of two linearly coupled scalar fields evolving on a cosmological background. The light field plays the role of the system and the heavy field is the environment. By comparing the exact solution to the output of the master equation, we can critically assess its performance. We find that the master equation exhibits a set of "spurious" terms that explicitly depend on the initial conditions, and which arise as a consequence of working on a dynamical background. Although they cancel out in the perturbative limit of the theory (i.e. at leading orders in the interaction strength), they spoil resummation. However, when those terms are removed, the master equation performs impressively well to reproduce the power spectra and the amount of the decoherence of the light field, even in the strongly decohered regime. We conclude that master equations are able to perform late-time resummation, even though the system is far from the Markovian limit, provided spurious contributions are suppressed.


Comment: 25 pages without appendices (48 pages in total), 5 figures

Subjects: High Energy Physics - Theory; Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics; General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology; High Energy Physics - Phenomenology