We survey systematically the general parametrisations of particle-physics models for a first-order phase transition in the early universe, including models with polynomial potentials both with and without barriers at zero temperature, and Coleman-Weinberg-like models with potentials that are classically scale-invariant. We distinguish three possibilities for the transition - detonations, deflagrations and hybrids - and consider sound waves and turbulent mechanisms for generating gravitational waves during the transitions in these models, checking in each case the requirement for successful percolation. We argue that in models without a zero-temperature barrier and in scale-invariant models the period during which sound waves generate gravitational waves lasts only for a fraction of a Hubble time after a generic first-order cosmological phase transition, whereas it may last longer in some models with a zero-temperature barrier that feature severe supercooling. We illustrate the implications of these results for future gravitational-wave experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number050
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • cosmological phase transitions
  • physics of the early universe
  • primordial gravitational waves (theory)


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