A detection of primordial B modes has been heralded not only as a smoking gun for the existence of inflation, but also as a way to establish the scale at which inflation took place. In this paper we critically reinvestigate the connection between a detection of primordial gravity waves and the scale of inflation. We consider whether the presence of additional fields and nonadiabaticity during inflation may have provided an additional source of primordial B modes competitive with those of the quasi-de Sitter vacuum. In particular, we examine whether the additional sources could provide the dominant signal, which could lead to a misinterpretation of the scale of inflation. In light of constraints on the level of non-Gaussianity coming from Planck we find that only hidden sectors with strictly gravitationally strong couplings provide a feasible mechanism. The required model building is somewhat elaborate, and so we discuss possible UV completions in the context of type IIB orientifold compactifications with Ramond-Ramond axions. We find that an embedding is possible and that dangerous sinusoidal corrections can be suppressed through the compactification geometry. Our main result is that even when additional sources of primordial gravity waves are competitive with the inflaton, a positive B-mode detection would still be a relatively good indicator of the scale of inflation. This conclusion will be strengthened by future constraints on both non-Gaussianity and cosmic microwave background polarization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics