Euclidean classical solutions in quantum field theory and gravity: Higgs vacuum metastability and the hierarchy problem

The thesis is dedicated to two groups of questions arising in modern particle physics and cosmology. The first group concerns with the problem of stability of the electroweak (EW) vacuum in different environments. Due to its phenomenological significance, the problem attracts high attention in recent research. We contribute to this research in two directions. First, we study decay rate of the EW vacuum at the inflationary stage of the universe. While in a low density, low temperature environment characteristic of the present-day universe the Standard Model EW vacuum is safely long-lived, the situation may be different during inflation. We estimate tunneling transition via Coleman-De Luccia instanton in this case and confirm that it is exponentially suppressed, contrary to the claims made in the literature. Second, we compute the lifetime of the EW vacuum in a scale-invariant extension of the Standard Model and gravity, known as the Higgs-Dilaton theory. The theory passes phenomenological tests and provides us with a plausible cosmological scenario. To confirm its viability, it is necessary to check if the EW vacuum in this theory is sufficiently safe. We perform this check and find that features of the Higgs-Dilaton theory yield additional stabilization of the low-energy vacuum, compared to the Standard Model case. Another group of questions addressed in the thesis is related to the hierarchy problem. Combining quantum scale invariance with the absence of new degrees of freedom above the EW scale leads to stability of the latter against perturbative quantum corrections. Nevertheless, the hierarchy between the weak and the Planck scales remains unexplained. We suggest that this hierarchy can be a manifestation of a non-perturbative effect relating low-energy and strong-gravity domains of the theory. To support this suggestion, we construct instanton configurations and investigate their contribution to the vacuum expectation value of the Higgs field. The effect we find relies on properties of the theory in the ultraviolet regime. Non-minimal coupling of the Higgs field to the Ricci scalar and an approximate Weyl invariance of the theory in this regime are important ingredients of the mechanism. Dynamical gravity plays a crucial role in the effect as it leads to existence of instanton solutions suitable for generating the EW scale.

Chapochnikov, Mikhail
Lausanne, EPFL

 Notice créée le 2018-11-21, modifiée le 2019-03-17

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