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5.2. Equations of motion and solutions

The equations for an expanding Universe containing a homogeneous scalar field are easily obtained by substituting Eqs. (33) and (34) into the Friedmann and fluid equations, giving

Equation 38 (38)
Equation 39 (39)

where prime indicates d / dphi. Here I have ignored the curvature term k, since we know that by definition it will quickly become negligible once inflation starts. This is done for simplicity only; there is no obstacle to including that term.


Equation 40 (40)

we will have inflation whenever the potential energy dominates. This should be possible provided the potential is flat enough, as the scalar field would then be expected to roll slowly. The potential should also have a minimum in which inflation can end.

The standard strategy for solving these equations is the slow-roll approximation (SRA); this assumes that a term can be neglected in each of the equations of motion to leave the simpler set

Equation 41 (41)
Equation 42 (42)

If we define slow-roll parameters [3]

Equation 43 (43)

where the first measures the slope of the potential and the second the curvature, then necessary conditions for the slow-roll approximation to hold are (4)

Equation 44 (44)

Unfortunately, although these are necessary conditions for the slow-roll approximation to hold, they are not sufficient, since even if the potential is very flat it may be that the scalar field has a large velocity. A more elaborate version of the SRA exists, based on the Hamilton-Jacobi formulation of inflation, [4] which is sufficient as well as necessary. [5]

Note also that the SRA reduces the order of the system of equations by one, and so its general solution contains one less initial condition. It works only because one can prove [4, 5] that the solution to the full equations possesses an attractor property, eliminating the dependence on the extra parameter.

4 Note that epsilon is positive by definition, whilst eta can have either sign. Back.

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