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Density Induced Vacuum Instability

by Reuven Balkin, Javi Serra, Konstantin Springmann, Stefan Stelzl and Andreas Weiler

Submission summary

As Contributors: Konstantin Springmann · Andreas Weiler
Preprint link: scipost_202111_00062v2
Date submitted: 2022-06-10 16:26
Submitted by: Springmann, Konstantin
Submitted to: SciPost Physics
Academic field: Physics
  • Gravitation, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
  • High-Energy Physics - Phenomenology


We consider matter density effects in theories with a false ground state. Large and dense systems, such as stars, can destabilize a metastable minimum and allow for the formation of bubbles of the true minimum. We derive the conditions under which these bubbles form, as well as the conditions under which they either remain confined to the dense region or escape to infinity. The latter case leads to a phase transition in the universe at star formation. We explore the phenomenological consequences of such seeded phase transitions.

Current status:
Editor-in-charge assigned

Reports on this Submission

Anonymous Report 2 on 2022-8-15 (Invited Report)


I am satisfied with the changes made by the authors. In my opinion, the paper can be published in SciPost Physics.


  • validity: -
  • significance: -
  • originality: -
  • clarity: -
  • formatting: -
  • grammar: -

Anonymous Report 1 on 2022-7-10 (Invited Report)


The paper explores the consequences of finite density effects for vacuum instability. It is argued that high-density systems such as stars might destabilize a metastable minimum (basically by removing the potential barrier) and allow for the formations of bubbles of the true minimum which, under some conditions, might escape the dense system and extend to infinity. The authors mainly focus on the case where the scalar field can classically move to the true minimum of the potential, although they also briefly analyze the case where the barrier has not completely disappeared and the transition happens via quantum tunnelling. These considerations apply to a general class of scalar potentials, featuring a density dependent potential barrier. Paradigmatic examples are relaxion potentials, which are set by the QCD quark condensate or by the Higgs VEV, both acquiring a non-trivial dependence from finite density. The phenomenological consequences of these density-induced vacuum transitions are intriguing: late phase transitions at stars formations which change the vacuum energy and might leave an imprint in cosmological observations.

The paper is well structured and clearly written. Moreover, I find the results original and relevant, and therefore I recommend that the present study is published in SciPost Physics, after the following minor points are addressed:

1. It would be good to clarify better the role of density effects on the rolling term in the potential in eq. 1. Is the assumption of neglecting the density dependence in Lambda_R motivated in some explicit realizations ?

2. sect. 4.4: it seems to me that the author never consider the case in which the minimum is deep, but not in the thin-wall regime. Is this because the authors have in mind a specific class of models?

3. Related to the previous question, are there potential consequences of finite-density effects on the SM vacuum decay rate?

  • validity: high
  • significance: high
  • originality: top
  • clarity: high
  • formatting: excellent
  • grammar: excellent

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