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String-inspired running vacuum — The “Vacuumon”—and the swampland criteria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Nick E. Mavromatos, Joan Solà Peracaula, Spyros Basilakos

Original languageEnglish
Article number218
Issue number11
PublishedNov 2020

King's Authors


We elaborate further on the compatibility of the “vacuumon potential” that characterises the inflationary phase of the running vacuum model (RVM) with the swampland criteria. The work is motivated by the fact that, as demonstrated recently by the authors, the RVM framework can be derived as an effective gravitational field theory stemming from underlying microscopic (critical) string theory models with gravitational anomalies, involving condensation of primordial gravitational waves. Although believed to be a classical scalar field description, not representing a fully fledged quantum field, we show here that the vacuumon potential satisfies certain swampland criteria for the relevant regime of parameters and field range. We link the criteria to the Gibbons–Hawking entropy that has been argued to characterise the RVM during the de Sitter phase. These results imply that the vacuumon may, after all, admit under certain conditions, a rôle as a quantum field during the inflationary (almost de Sitter) phase of the running vacuum. The conventional slow-roll interpretation of this field, however, fails just because it satisfies the swampland criteria. The RVM effective theory derived from the low-energy effective action of string theory does, however, successfully describe inflation thanks to the ∼ H4 terms induced by the gravitational anomalous condensates. In addition, the stringy version of the RVM involves the Kalb–Ramond (KR) axion field, which, in contrast to the vacuumon, does perfectly satisfy the slow-roll condition. We conclude that the vacuumon description is not fully equivalent to the stringy formulation of the RVM. Our study provides a particularly interesting example of a successful phenomenological theory beyond the ΛCDM, such as the RVM, in which the fulfilment of the swampland criteria by the associated scalar field potential, along with its compatibility with (an appropriate form of) the weak gravity conjecture, prove to be insufficient conditions for warranting consistency of the scalar vacuum field representation as a faithful ultraviolet complete representation of the RVM at the quantum gravity level.

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