Schwinger effect in de Sitter space

Markus B. Fröb, Jaume Garriga, Sugumi Kanno, Misao Sasaki, Jiro Soda, Takahiro Tanaka, Alexander Vilenkin

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92 Citations (Scopus)


We consider Schwinger pair production in 1+1 dimensional de Sitter space, filled with a constant electric field E. This can be thought of as a model for describing false vacuum decay beyond the semiclassical approximation, where pairs of a quantum field φ of mass m and charge e play the role of vacuum bubbles. We find that the adiabatic "in" vacuum associated with the flat chart develops a space-like expectation value for the current J, which manifestly breaks the de Sitter invariance of the background fields. We derive a simple expression for J(E), showing that both "upward" and "downward" tunneling contribute to the build-up of the current. For heavy fields, with m2 ≫ eE,H2, the current is exponentially suppressed, in agreement with the results of semiclassical instanton methods. Here, H is the inverse de Sitter radius. On the other hand, light fields with m ≪ H lead to a phenomenon of infrared hyperconductivity, where a very small electric field mH≲eE ≪ H2 leads to a very large current J ∼ H3/E. We also show that all Hadamard states for φ necessarily break de Sitter invariance. Finally, we comment on the role of initial conditions, and "persistence of memory" effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number009
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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