Following on after two previous papers discussing the formation of primordial black holes in the early universe, we present here results from an in-depth investigation of the extent to which primordial black hole formation in the radiative era can be considered as an example of the critical collapse phenomenon. We focus on initial supra-horizon-scale perturbations of a type which could have come from inflation, with only a growing component and no decaying component. In order to study perturbations with amplitudes extremely close to the supposed critical limit, we have modified our previous computer code with the introduction of an adaptive mesh refinement scheme. This has allowed us to follow black hole formation from perturbations whose amplitudes are up to eight orders of magnitude closer to the threshold than we could do before. We find that scaling-law behaviour continues down to the smallest black hole masses that we are able to follow and we see no evidence of shock production such as has been reported in some previous studies and which led there to a breaking of the scaling-law behaviour at small black hole masses. We attribute this difference to the different initial conditions used. In addition to the scaling law, we also present other features of the results which are characteristic of critical collapse in this context.
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