On the Strength of First Order Phase Transitions
Electroweak baryogenesis may solve one of the most fundamental questions we can ask about the universe, that of the origin of matter. It has become clear in the past few years that it also poses a multi-faceted challenge. In order to compute the tiny primordial baryonic excess, we probably must invoke physics beyond the standard model (an exciting prospect for most people), we must push perturbation theory to its “limits” (or beyond), and we must deal with nonequilibrium aspects of the phase transition. In this talk, I focus mainly on the latter issue, that of nonequilibrium aspects of first order transitions. In particular, I discuss the elusive question of “weakness”. What does it mean to have a weak first order transition, and how can we distinguish between weak and strong? I argue that weak and strong transitions have very different dynamics; while strong transitions proceed by the usual bubble nucleation mechanism, weak transitions are characterized by a mixing of phases as the system reaches the critical temperature from above. I show that it is possible to clearly distinguish between the two, and discuss consequences for studies of first order transitions in general.
KeywordsCritical Temperature Higgs Masse Order Transition Order Phase Transition Strong Transition
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