Living beyond the edge: Higgs inflation and vacuum metastability
The measurements of the Higgs mass and top Yukawa coupling indicate that we live in a very special universe, at the edge of the absolute stability of the electroweak vacuum. If fully stable, the Standard Model (SM) can be extended all the way up to the inflationary scale and the Higgs field, nonminimally coupled to gravity with strength xi, can be responsible for inflation. We show that the successful Higgs inflation scenario can also take place if the SM vacuum is not absolutely stable. This conclusion is based on two effects that were overlooked previously. The first one is associated with the effective renormalization of the SM couplings at the energy scale M-P/xi, where M-P is the Planck scale. The second one is a symmetry restoration after inflation due to high temperature effects that leads to the (temporary) disappearance of the vacuum at Planck values of the Higgs field.