Physical Review D
We present a detailed investigation of a subdominant oscillating scalar field [“early dark energy” (EDE)] in the context of resolving the Hubble tension. Consistent with earlier work, but without relying on fluid approximations, we find that a scalar field frozen due to Hubble friction until log10(zc)∼3.5, reaching ρEDE(zc)/ρtot∼10% and diluting faster than matter afterwards, can bring cosmic microwave background (CMB), baryonic acoustic oscillations, supernovae luminosity distances, and the late-time estimate of the Hubble constant from the SH0ES Collaboration into agreement. A scalar field potential that scales as V(ϕ)∝ϕ2n with 2≲n≲3.4 around the minimum is preferred at the 68% confidence level, and the Planck polarization places additional constraints on the dynamics of perturbations in the scalar field. In particular, the data prefer a potential that flattens at large field displacements. A Markov-chain Monte Carlo analysis of mock data shows that the next-generation CMB observations (i.e., CMB-S4) can unambiguously detect the presence of the EDE at a very high significance. This projected sensitivity to the EDE dynamics is mainly driven by improved measurements of the E-mode polarization. We also explore new observational signatures of EDE scalar field dynamics: (i) We find that depending on the strength of the tensor-to-scalar ratio, the presence of the EDE might imply the existence of isocurvature perturbations in the CMB. (ii) We show that a strikingly rapid, scale-dependent growth of EDE field perturbations can result from parametric resonance driven by the anharmonic oscillating field for n≈2. This instability and ensuing potentially nonlinear, spatially inhomogeneous, dynamics may provide unique signatures of this scenario.
Tristan L. Smith, V. Poulin, and M. A. Amin.
"Oscillating Scalar Fields And The Hubble Tension: A Resolution With Novel Signatures".
Physical Review D.