MSc thesis proposals
MEFT PROJECT 1: Scale invariance, inflation and the strong CP problem
The synergy of the Standard Model of particle physics and General Relativity has led to a consistent framework confirmed by numerous experiments and observations. In spite of their undeniable success, these theories cannot be considered as complete theories of Nature. On the one hand, they fail to explain basic observational facts such as the existence of neutrino masses, the presence of a sizable dark matter component or the matter-antimatter asymmetry of the Universe. On the other hand, they are unable to provide a satisfactory solution to several fine-tuning issues such as the strong CP problem in QCD or the so-called hierarchy problem, which leads to the instability of the Higgs mass under radiative corrections and to the infamous cosmological constant problem.
The discovery of a relatively light Higgs boson in the LHC together with the absence of new physics beyond the Standard Model has rejuvenated scale symmetry as an interesting framework to address the aforementioned Standard Model problems. Interestingly enough, the inclusion of gravity in a scale-invariant setting may have far-reaching consequences. On the one hand, the breaking of dilatation symmetry translates into the appearance of a pseudo-Goldstone boson or dilaton which, due to its small mass, could potentially contribute to the early and late time acceleration of the Universe. On the other hand, the small value of the Higgs mass at the Planck scale could be a natural consequence of asymptotic safety, as already suggested by several renormalization group studies.
The MSc candidate will complement this ambitious program by considering an axion solution to the strong CP problem within a scale invariant extension of the Standard Model non-minimally coupled to gravity. The main idea behind this proposal will be to identify the axion field in the most commonly accepted Peccei-Quinn scenario with the dilaton field needed for implementing scale invariance in the Standard Model, such that both dilatation and chiral symmetries are spontaneously broken before inflation. The target scenarios will be based on the principles of minimality and quantum stability, seeking to provide a self-consistent evolution of the Universe while avoiding the stringent cosmological bounds on the axion coupling constant. Distinguishing features for experiments and observations will be also considered.
A basic knowledge of Quantum Field Theory (at the level of “Teoria de Campo” or “Física de Partículas“) and General Relativity (e.g. “Relatividade e Cosmologia”) is highly recommended. Familiarity with the Standard Model phenomenology and beyond (e.g “Modelo Standard e Nova Física“) could be also helpful but not strictly necessary.
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