The aim of this paper is to determine an exact definition of the reheat temperature for a generic perturbative decay of the inflaton. In order to estimate the reheat temperature, there are two important conditions one needs to satisfy: (a) the decay products of the inflaton must dominate the energy density of the universe, i.e. the universe becomes completely radiation dominated, and (b) the decay products of the inflaton have attained local thermodynamical equilibrium. For some choices of parameters, the latter is a more stringent condition, such that the decay products may thermalise much after the beginning of radiation-domination. Consequently, we have obtained that the reheat temperature can be much lower than the standard-lore estimation. This result has an immediate impact on many applications which rely on the thermal history of the universe.
Date added: Tue, 22 Oct 13