Abstract:
I discuss the possibility of using a massive vector field to generate the density perturbation in the Universe. I find that a scale-invariant superhorizon spectrum of vector field perturbations is possible to generate during inflation. The associated curvature perturbation is imprinted onto the Universe following the curvaton scenario. The mechanism does not generate a long-range anisotropy because an oscillating massive vector field behaves as a pressureless isotropic fluid.

Abstract:
Quintessential inflation is studied using a string modulus as the inflaton - quintessence field. It is assumed that the modulus crosses an enhanced symmetry point (ESP) in field space. Particle production at the ESP temporarily traps the modulus resulting in a period of inflation. After reheating, the modulus freezes due to cosmological friction at a large value, such that its scalar potential is dominated by contributions due to fluxes in the extra dimensions. The modulus remains frozen until the present, when it can become quintessence.

Abstract:
It is investigated whether a massive Abelian vector field, whose gauge kinetic function is growing during inflation, can be responsible for the generation of the curvature perturbation in the Universe. Particle production is studied and it is shown that the vector field can obtain a scale invariant superhorizon spectrum of perturbations with a reasonable choice of kinetic function. After inflation the vector field begins coherent oscillations, during which it corresponds to pressureless isotropic matter. When the vector field dominates the Universe its perturbations give rise to the observed curvature perturbation following the curvaton scenario. It is found that this is possible if, after the end of inflation, the mass of the vector field increases at a phase transition at temperature of order 1 TeV or lower. Inhomogeneous reheating, whereby the vector field modulates the decay rate of the inflaton, is also studied.

Abstract:
The fundamental paradox of the incompatibility of the observed large-scale uniformity of the Universe with the fact that the age of the Universe is finite is overcome by the introduction of an initial a period of superluminal expansion of space, called cosmic inflation. Inflation can also produce the small deviations from uniformity needed for the formation of structures in the Universe such as galaxies. This is achieved by the conjunction of inflation with the quantum vacuum, through the so-called particle production process. This mechanism is explained and linked with Hawking radiation of black holes. The nature of the particles involved is discussed and the case of using massive vector boson fields instead of scalar fields is presented, with emphasis on its distinct observational signatures. Finally, a particular implementation of these ideas is included, which can link the formation of galaxies, the standard model vector bosons and the observed galactic magnetic fields.

Abstract:
It is argued why, contrary to expectations, steep brane-inflation cannot really help in overcoming the eta-problem of quintessential inflation model-building. In contrast it is shown that the problem is substantially ameliorated under the curvaton hypothesis. This is quantified by considering possible modular quintessential inflationary models in the context of both standard and brane cosmology.

Abstract:
The vector curvaton paradigm is reviewed. The mechanism allows a massive vector boson field to contribute to or even generate the curvature perturbation in the Universe. Contribution of vector bosons is likely to generate statistical anisotropy in the spectrum and bispectrum of the curvature perturbation, which will soon be probed observationally. Two specific models for the generation of superhorizon spectra for the components of an Abelian vector field are analysed. Emphasis is put on the observational signatures of the models when the vector fields play the role of vector curvatons. If future observations support the vector curvaton mechanism this will open a window into the gauge field content of theories beyond the standard model.

Abstract:
The generation of a magnetic field in the Early Universe is considered, due to the gravitational production of the Z-boson field during inflation. Scaled to the epoch of galaxy formation this magnetic field suffices to trigger the galactic dynamo and explain the observed galactic magnetic fields. The mechanism is independent of the inflationary model.

Abstract:
Cosmic strings are stable topological defects that may have been created at a phase transition in the early universe. It is a growing belief that, for a wide range of theoretical models, such strings may be superconducting and carry substantial currents which have important astrophysical and cosmological effects. This paper explores the possibility of generation of a primordial magnetic field by a network of charged-current carrying cosmic strings. The field is created by vorticity, generated in the primordial plasma due to the strings' motion and gravitational pull. In the case of superconducting strings formed at the breaking of grand unification, it is found that strong magnetic fields of high coherence can be generated in that way. Such fields could account for the observed galactic and intergalactic magnetic fields since they suffice to seed magnetic dynamos on galactic scales.

Abstract:
The particle production process is reviewed, through which cosmic inflation can produce a scale invariant superhorizon spectrum of perturbations of suitable fields starting from their quantum fluctuations. Afterwards, in the context of the inflationary paradigm, a number of mechanisms (e.g. curvaton, inhomogeneous reheating etc.) through which such perturbations can source the curvature perturbation in the Universe and explain the formation of structures such as galaxies are briefly described. Finally, the possibility that cosmic vector fields also contribute to the curvature perturbation (e.g. through the vector curvaton mechanism) is considered and its distinct observational signatures are discussed, such as correlated statistical anisotropy in the spectrum and bispectrum of the curvature perturbation.

Abstract:
A new family of inflation models is introduced and studied. The models are characterised by a scalar potential which, far from the origin, approximates an inflationary plateau, while near the origin becomes monomial, as in chaotic inflation. The models are obtained in the context of global supersymmetry starting with a superpotential, which interpolates from a generalised monomial to an O'Raifearteagh form for small to large values of the inflaton field respectively. It is demonstrated that the observables obtained, such as the scalar spectral index and the tensor to scalar ratio, are in excellent agreement with the latest observations. Some discussion of initial conditions and eternal inflation is included.