Axio-Chameleons: A Novel String-Friendly Multi-field Screening Mechanism

November 8, 2023
11:30am to 12:30pm

IFT Seminar Room/Red Room

Specialist level
Lorenzo Paoloni

IFT Seminar Room/Red Room


After the paper discussion, Lorenzo Paoloni will give a talk on "Axio-Chameleons: A Novel String-Friendly Multi-field Screening Mechanism", based on 2310.02092 by P. Brax, C.P. Burgess, F. Quevedo.

"Scalar-tensor theories with the shift symmetries required by light scalars are well-explored modifications to GR. For these, two-derivative scalar self-interactions usually dominate at low energies and interestingly compete with the two-derivative metric interactions of GR itself. Although much effort has been invested in single scalars (on grounds of simplicity) these happen to have no two-derivative interactions, requiring such models to explore higher-derivative interactions (that usually would be less important at low-energies). This suggests multiple-scalar sigma models as well-motivated candidates for finding new phenomena in tests of gravity. We identify a new multi-field screening mechanism appropriate for two light scalar fields (an axion and a Brans-Dicke style dilaton) that relies on their mutual two-derivative interactions. We show how very weak axion-matter couplings can introduce axion gradients that can reduce the apparent coupling of the Brans-Dicke scalar to macroscopic matter sources. We further identify a relaxation mechanism that allows this reduction to be amplified to a suppression by the ratio of the axion gradient's length scale to the source's radius (similar in size to the suppression found in Chameleon models). Unlike some screening mechanisms our proposal is technically natural and works deep within the regime of control of the low-energy EFT. It uses only ingredients that commonly appear in the low-energy limit of string vacua and so is likely to have wider applications to models that admit UV completions. We briefly discuss phenomenological implications and challenges for this scenario, which suggests re-examination of decay loss bounds and the value of equivalence-principle tests for different-sized objects."

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