6 The End of Inflation
Dr. Mustafa Amin,
2008-2011 Pappalardo Fellow (Theoretical Astrophysics)
Inflation, a period of accelerated expansion in the very early Universe, provides an elegant explanation for the observed spatial flatness of our universe. It also provides a robust mechanismfor generating the observed initial conditions for the formation of large-scale structure. However, inflation must end, giving rise to a hot, thermal Universe by the time light elements get synthesized. How did inflation end? Can we probe the end of inflation observationally? I will provide an overview of the different ways in which the inflation can dissipate its energy to reheat the Universe. In particular, I'll discuss how the explosive, nonlinear field dynamics can lead to copious production of pseudo-solitons, heavy relics and gravitational waves, as well as boost the formation of structure in the very early Universe.