How Gaussian can our Universe be?

Giovanni Cabass, Enrico Pajer, Fabian Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Gravity is a non-linear theory, and hence, barring cancellations, the initial super-horizon perturbations produced by inflation must contain some minimum amount of mode coupling, or primordial non-Gaussianity. In single-field slow-roll models, where this lower bound is saturated, non-Gaussianity is controlled by two observables: the tensor-to-scalar ratio, which is uncertain by more than fifty orders of magnitude; and the scalar spectral index, or tilt, which is relatively well measured. It is well known that to leading and next-to-leading order in derivatives, the contributions proportional to the tilt disappear from any local observable, and suspicion has been raised that this might happen to all orders, allowing for an arbitrarily low amount of primordial non-Gaussianity. Employing Conformal Fermi Coordinates, we show explicitly that this is not the case. Instead, a contribution of order the tilt appears in local observables. In summary, the floor of physical primordial non-Gaussianity in our Universe has a squeezed-limit scaling of $k_\ell^2/k_s^2$, similar to equilateral and orthogonal shapes, and a dimensionless amplitude of order $0.1\times(n_\mathrm{s}-1)$.
Original languageEnglish
Article number003
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • inflation
  • physics of the early universe


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