Axion strings and spontaneously broken symmetry - Physics Stack Exchange most recent 30 from physics.stackexchange.com 2019-09-16T04:32:27Z https://physics.stackexchange.com/feeds/question/191828 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/rdf https://physics.stackexchange.com/q/191828 3 Axion strings and spontaneously broken symmetry Name YYY https://physics.stackexchange.com/users/72900 2015-06-29T13:12:15Z 2018-12-12T17:42:20Z <p>I have two question about axion strings:</p> <ol> <li>Why their appearance is connected with spontaneously broken symmetry? How to demonstrate that? </li> <li><strong>Why they are stable topological configurations (look to the "Addition" text below)?</strong></li> <li>Why when we choose string located along $z-$axis and set solution for Peccei-Quinn scalar field $\varphi$ in a string-like form $\varphi = ve^{i\theta}$, where $v$ is VEV of $\varphi$, $\theta$ is axion, then we have $$[\partial_{x}, \partial_{y}]\theta = 2\pi \delta (x) \delta (y)?$$ How to demonstrate that?</li> </ol> <p><strong>Addition</strong></p> <p>Let's assume axion "bare" lagrangian $$\tag 1 L = \frac{1}{2}|\partial_{\mu}\varphi |^{2} - \frac{\lambda}{4} (|\varphi |^{2} - v^{2})^{2}$$ One of solution of corresponding e.o.m. is axion string - stable topological configuration. If string is located along z-axis and if it is static, then corresponding solution is simply ($\rho$ is polar radius, $\varphi$ corresponds to polar angle and, in fact, to axion) $$\varphi (x) = f(\rho ) e^{i n \varphi}, \quad f(0) = 0, \quad f(\infty ) = v,$$ where $n$ is winding number. </p> <p>Statement that configurations with different winding numbers are stable means that they are separated by infinite potential barriers. But I don't understand how $(1)$ creates barriers for different $n$.</p> <p><strong>Addition 2</strong></p> <p>Thank to the Meng Cheng comment. The first and the third questions are closed. Explicit proof of the statement of the third question: $$[\partial_{x}, \partial_{y}]arctg\left[\frac{y}{x}\right] = \partial_{x}\left[ \frac{x}{x^{2} + y^{2} + a^{2}}\right]_{\lim a \to 0} + \partial_{y}\left[ \frac{y}{x^{2} + y^{2} + a^{2}}\right]_{\lim a \to 0} =$$ $$=\left[\frac{2a^{2}}{(x^{2} + y^{2} + a^{2})^{2}}\right]_{\lim a \to 0} = 2 \pi \left[\frac{a^{2}}{\pi}\frac{1}{(r^{2} + a^{2})} \right]_{\lim a =0} = 2 \pi \delta_{a}(\mathbf r)$$</p> https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/191828/-/446634#446634 1 Answer by Nanashi No Gombe for Axion strings and spontaneously broken symmetry Nanashi No Gombe https://physics.stackexchange.com/users/76347 2018-12-11T15:35:09Z 2018-12-12T17:42:20Z <p>The topological stability of global <span class="math-container">$U(1)$</span> vortices or strings has been discussed in several introductory books on the topic (see, for instance, <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/advanced-topics-in-quantum-field-theory/FC84068242A55047FA60E017A134EA52" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Advanced Topics in Quantum Field Theory by M.Shifman</a>).</p> <p>In cylindrical coordinates <span class="math-container">$(\rho,\theta, z)$</span> of physical space <span class="math-container">$\mathbb R^3,$</span> a static, straight vortex or string of core size <span class="math-container">$\delta$</span>, aligned along the <span class="math-container">$z$</span>-axis, is given by the map</p> <p><span class="math-container">$$(\rho,\theta, z) \in \mathbb R^3\to \mathfrak M \ni \varphi(\rho,\theta) \simeq \begin{cases} 0 &amp;\text{ for } \rho=0\,,\\ v e^{in\theta} &amp;\text{ for } \rho \gg\delta \,, \end{cases}$$</span></p> <p>where <span class="math-container">$\mathfrak M$</span> denotes the vacuum manifold and <span class="math-container">$n\in\mathbb Z$</span> is called the winding number. Let us emphasize that <span class="math-container">$\theta \in S^1$</span> is only a spatial coordinate, not the vortex itself. The vortex is a continuous assignment of vacua in <span class="math-container">$\mathfrak M$</span> to every point in physical space. In our case, <span class="math-container">$\mathfrak M$</span> is itself an abstract topological circle <span class="math-container">$S^1$</span> (because the vacua are defined by <span class="math-container">$|\varphi|=v$</span>). Note that if we traverse a circular contour in physical space around the vortex going from <span class="math-container">$\theta = 0$</span> to <span class="math-container">$\theta = 2\pi$</span>, then the phase of the vortex <span class="math-container">$\varphi$</span> winds in the vacuum manifold <span class="math-container">$\mathfrak M$</span> from <span class="math-container">$0$</span> to <span class="math-container">$2\pi n$</span>. This is why we say that (at <span class="math-container">$\rho \gg \delta$</span>) the map from physical space <span class="math-container">$S^1\to \mathfrak M$</span> has winding number <span class="math-container">$n$</span>. </p> <p>The claim is that <span class="math-container">$n$</span> characterises different homotopy classes of non-contractible loops in <span class="math-container">$\mathfrak M$</span>. In other words, <span class="math-container">$n$</span> is a homotopy-invariant, that is there exists no homotopy which can continuously deform <span class="math-container">$\varphi$</span> to another <span class="math-container">$\varphi'$</span> with a different winding number. For example, for the two vector fields shown below (the left is a string with <span class="math-container">$n=2$</span> and the right is a string with <span class="math-container">$n=3$</span>), the claim is that there is no homotopy that morphs one into the other.</p> <p><a href="https://i.stack.imgur.com/F8lVk.jpg" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><img src="https://i.stack.imgur.com/F8lVk.jpg" alt="winding number = 2"></a><a href="https://i.stack.imgur.com/N90Wf.jpg" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><img src="https://i.stack.imgur.com/N90Wf.jpg" alt="winding number = 3"></a></p> <p>This claim is readily established by the observation that <span class="math-container">$\pi_1(\mathfrak M) = \mathbb Z$</span>. Of course, it is obvious that if you loop a rope say twice around the rim of a wheel and tie the ends, it is impossible to unwrap the rope with local shenanigans into a loop that winds only once, unless you do something discontinuous such as unwrap it outside the wheel. It is a consequence of the global topological structure of the vacuum manifold.</p> <p>The above argument is one of purely topological origin and has nothing to do with any model-specific tunnelling amplitudes being suppressed by an infinite potential barrier in this case. In fact, a quantum field theory does not allow tunnelling between degenerate vacua at all, regardless of the specifics of the model. The Hilbert space of each degenerate vacuum is completely separate from the Hilbert spaces of other degenerate vacua. This is the very reason why symmetries can spontaneously break in quantum field theory (but not in quantum mechanics). You see, granted that a global <span class="math-container">$U(1)$</span> symmetry completely breaks outside a vortex of a certain core size and all points in spacetime pick a certain vacuum during this phase transition, the question is not whether this vacuum configuration can dynamically tunnel into another vacuum configuration with a different winding number (because it simply cannot, due to the general fact that degenerate vacua cannot tunnel at all in quantum field theory). The question is whether the winding numbers are stable under arbitrary local perturbations of the Hamiltonian of our theory (the perturbations being respectful of the original symmetry). If they are stable (and they are, because of topological protection), then it either takes an infinite amount of energy to change the winding numbers or you have to do something nasty (discontinuous) with your order parameter, namely the vortex.</p>