We investigate what can be said about the interaction of scalar fields with Abelian gauge fields during a quasi-de Sitter phase of expansion and under the assumption that the electric and the magnetic susceptibilities do not coincide. The duality symmetry, transforming the magnetic susceptibility into the inverse of the electric susceptibility, exchanges the magnetic and electric power spectra. The mismatch between the two susceptibilities determines an effective refractive index affecting the evolution of the canonical fields. The constraints imposed by the duration of the inflationary phase and by the magnetogenesis requirements pin down the rate of variation of the susceptibilities that is consistent with the observations of the magnetic field strength over astrophysical and cosmological scales but avoids back-reaction problems. The parameter space of this magnetogenesis scenario is wider than in the case when the susceptibilities are equal, as it happens when the inflaton or some other spectator field is solely coupled to the standard gauge kinetic term.
Date added: Tue, 8 Oct 13