Discrete Gauged Baryon Minus Lepton Number and the Cosmological Lithium Problem

Seth Koren
University of Chicago
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
11:00 am
Zoom Seminar


The cosmological lithium problem---that the observed primordial abundance is lower than theoretical expectations by order one---is perhaps the most statistically significant anomaly of SM+ ΛCDM, and has resisted decades of attempts by cosmologists, nuclear physicists, and astronomers alike to root out systematics. We upgrade a discrete subgroup of the anomaly-free global symmetry of the SM to an infrared gauge symmetry, and UV complete this at a scale Λ as the familiar U(1)_{B-L} Abelian Higgs theory. The early universe phase transition forms cosmic strings which are charged under the emergent higher-form symmetry of the baryon minus lepton BF theory. These topological defects catalyze interactions which turn N_g baryons into N_g leptons at strong scale rates in an analogue of the Callan-Rubakov effect, where N_g=3 is the number of SM generations. We write down a model in which baryon minus lepton strings superconduct bosonic global baryon plus lepton number currents and catalyze solely 3p^+ → 3e^+. We suggest that such cosmic strings have disintegrated O(1) of the lithium nuclei formed during Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and estimate the rate, with our benchmark model finding Λ ~ 10^8 GeV gives the right number density of strings. 

Yuri Shirman