Andrew Strominger - Harvard

Andrew Strominger
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Andrew Strominger
United States

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High Energy Physics - Theory (50)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (32)
High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (9)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (7)
Physics - Fluid Dynamics (3)
Mathematical Physics (3)
Mathematics - Mathematical Physics (3)

Publications Authored By Andrew Strominger

This is a redacted transcript of a course given by the author at Harvard in spring semester 2016. It contains a pedagogical overview of recent developments connecting the subjects of soft theorems, the memory effect and asymptotic symmetries in four-dimensional QED, nonabelian gauge theory and gravity with applications to black holes. The lectures may be viewed online at https://goo. Read More

Recently a boundary energy-momentum tensor $T_{zz}$ has been constructed from the soft graviton operator for any 4D quantum theory of gravity in asymptotically flat space. Up to an "anomaly" which is one-loop exact, $T_{zz}$ generates a Virasoro action on the 2D celestial sphere at null infinity. Here we show by explicit construction that the effects of the IR divergent part of the anomaly can be eliminated by a one-loop renormalization that shifts $T_{zz}$. Read More

The four-dimensional (4D) Lorentz group $SL(2,\mathbb{C})$ acts as the two-dimensional (2D) global conformal group on the celestial sphere at infinity where asymptotic 4D scattering states are specified. Consequent similarities of 4D flat space amplitudes and 2D correlators on the conformal sphere are obscured by the fact that the former are usually expressed in terms of asymptotic wavefunctions which transform simply under spacetime translations rather than the Lorentz $SL(2,\mathbb{C})$. In this paper we construct on-shell massive scalar wavefunctions in 4D Minkowski space that transform as $SL(2,\mathbb{C})$ conformal primaries. Read More

It has been shown by A. Sen that logarithmic corrections to the black hole area-entropy law are entirely determined macroscopically from the massless particle spectrum. They therefore serve as powerful consistency checks on any proposed enumeration of quantum black hole microstates. Read More

It is shown that black hole spacetimes in classical Einstein gravity are characterized by, in addition to their ADM mass $M$, momentum $\vec P$, angular momentum $\vec J$ and boost charge $\vec K$, an infinite head of supertranslation hair. The distinct black holes are distinguished by classical superrotation charges measured at infinity. Solutions with supertranslation hair are diffeomorphic to the Schwarzschild spacetime, but the diffeomorphisms are part of the BMS subgroup and act nontrivially on the physical phase space. Read More

Recent work has shown that the symmetries of classical gravitational scattering in asymptotically flat spacetimes include, at the linearized level, infinitesimal superrotations. These act like Virasoro generators on the celestial sphere at null infinity. However, due to the singularities in these generators, the physical status of finite superrotations has remained unclear. Read More

We use the subleading soft-graviton theorem to construct an operator $T_{zz}$ whose insertion in the four-dimensional tree-level quantum gravity $\mathcal{S}$-matrix obeys the Virasoro-Ward identities of the energy momentum tensor of a two-dimensional conformal field theory (CFT$_2$). The celestial sphere at Minkowskian null infinity plays the role of the Euclidean sphere of the CFT$_2$, with the Lorentz group acting as the unbroken $SL(2,\mathbb{C})$ subgroup. Read More

Ongoing astronomical efforts extract physical properties of black holes from electromagnetic emissions in their near-vicinity. This requires finding the null geodesics which extend from the near-horizon region out to a distant observatory. In general these can only be found numerically. Read More

The area of a cross-sectional cut $\Sigma$ of future null infinity ($\mathcal{I}^+$) is infinite. We define a finite, renormalized area by subtracting the area of the same cut in any one of the infinite number of BMS-degenerate classical vacua. The renormalized area acquires an anomalous dependence on the choice of vacuum. Read More

We exploit the near-horizon conformal symmetry of rapidly spinning black holes to determine universal properties of their magnetospheres. Analytic expressions are derived for the limiting form of the magnetosphere in the near-horizon region. The symmetry is shown to imply that the black hole Meissner effect holds for free Maxwell fields but is generically violated for force-free fields. Read More

It has recently been shown that BMS supertranslation symmetries imply an infinite number of conservation laws for all gravitational theories in asymptotically Minkowskian spacetimes. These laws require black holes to carry a large amount of soft ($i.e. Read More

We establish the existence of an infinite-dimensional fermionic symmetry in four-dimensional supersymmetric gauge theories by analyzing semiclassical photino dynamics in abelian ${\cal N}=1$ theories with charged matter. The symmetry is parametrized by a spinor-valued function on an asymptotic $S^2$ at null infinity. It is not manifest at the level of the Lagrangian, but acts non-trivially on physical states, and its Ward identity is the soft photino theorem. Read More

The soft photon theorem, in its standard form, requires corrections when the asymptotic particle states carry magnetic charges. These corrections are deduced using electromagnetic duality and the resulting soft formula conjectured to be exact for all abelian gauge theories. Recent work has shown that the standard soft theorem implies an infinity of conserved electric charges. Read More

The soft photon theorem in U(1) gauge theories with only massless charged particles has recently been shown to be the Ward identity of an infinite-dimensional asymptotic symmetry group. This symmetry group is comprised of gauge transformations which approach angle-dependent constants at null infinity. In this paper, we extend the analysis to all U(1) theories, including those with massive charged particles such as QED. Read More

Most extreme-mass-ratio-inspirals of small compact objects into supermassive black holes end with a fast plunge from an eccentric last stable orbit. For rapidly rotating black holes such fast plunges may be studied in the context of the Kerr/CFT correspondence because they occur in the near-horizon region where dynamics are governed by the infinite dimensional conformal symmetry. In this paper we use conformal transformations to analytically solve for the radiation emitted from fast plunges into near-extreme Kerr black holes. Read More

Scattering amplitudes of any four-dimensional theory with nonabelian gauge group $\mathcal G$ may be recast as two-dimensional correlation functions on the asymptotic two-sphere at null infinity. The soft gluon theorem is shown, for massless theories at the semiclassical level, to be the Ward identity of a holomorphic two-dimensional $\mathcal G$-Kac-Moody symmetry acting on these correlation functions. Holomorphic Kac-Moody current insertions are positive helicity soft gluon insertions. Read More

Asymptotic symmetries of theories with gravity in d=2m+2 spacetime dimensions are reconsidered for m>1 in light of recent results concerning d=4 BMS symmetries. Weinberg's soft graviton theorem in 2m+2 dimensions is re-expressed as a Ward identity for the gravitational S-matrix. The corresponding asymptotic symmetries are identified with 2m+2-dimensional supertranslations. Read More

The conventional gravitational memory effect is a relative displacement in the position of two detectors induced by radiative energy flux. We find a new type of gravitational `spin memory' in which beams on clockwise and counterclockwise orbits acquire a relative delay induced by radiative angular momentum flux. It has recently been shown that the displacement memory formula is a Fourier transform in time of Weinberg's soft graviton theorem. Read More

We consider the scattering of massless particles coupled to an abelian gauge field in 2n-dimensional Minkowski spacetime. Weinberg's soft photon theorem is recast as Ward identities for infinitely many new nontrivial symmetries of the massless QED S-matrix, with one such identity arising for each propagation direction of the soft photon. These symmetries are identified as large gauge transformations with angle-dependent gauge parameters that are constant along the null generators of null infinity. Read More

The transit of a gravitating radiation pulse past arrays of detectors stationed near future null infinity in the vacuum is considered. It is shown that the relative positions and clock times of the detectors before and after the radiation transit differ by a BMS supertranslation. An explicit expression for the supertranslation in terms of moments of the radiation energy flux is given. Read More

An infinite number of physically nontrivial symmetries are found for abelian gauge theories with massless charged particles. They are generated by large $U(1)$ gauge transformations that asymptotically approach an arbitrary function $\varepsilon(z,\bar{z})$ on the conformal sphere at future null infinity ($\mathscr I^+$) but are independent of the retarded time. The value of $\varepsilon$ at past null infinity ($\mathscr I^-$) is determined from that on $\mathscr I^+$ by the condition that it take the same value at either end of any light ray crossing Minkowski space. Read More

It was shown by F. Low in the 1950s that the subleading terms of soft photon S-matrix elements obey a universal linear relation. In this paper we give a new interpretation to this old relation, for the case of massless QED, as an infinitesimal symmetry of the S-matrix. Read More

Plasma-filled magnetospheres can extract energy from a spinning black hole and provide the power source for a variety of observed astrophysical phenomena. These magnetospheres are described by the highly nonlinear equations of force-free electrodynamics, or FFE. Typically these equations can only be solved numerically. Read More

It is shown that the tree-level S-matrix for quantum gravity in four-dimensional Minkowski space has a Virasoro symmetry which acts on the conformal sphere at null infinity. Read More

Holographic inflation posits that the inflationary deSitter era of our universe is approximately described by a dual three-dimensional Euclidean CFT living on the spatial slice at the end of inflation. We point out that the BICEP2 results determine the central charge of this putative CFT to be given by $C_T=1.2 \times 10^9$. Read More

The single-soft-graviton limit of any quantum gravity scattering amplitude is given at leading order by the universal Weinberg pole formula. Gauge invariance of the formula follows from global energy-momentum conservation. In this paper evidence is given for a conjectured universal formula for the finite subleading term in the expansion about the soft limit, whose gauge invariance follows from global angular momentum conservation. Read More

Massive objects orbiting a near-extreme Kerr black hole quickly plunge into the horizon after passing the innermost stable circular orbit. The plunge trajectory is shown to be related by a conformal map to a circular orbit. Conformal symmetry of the near-horizon region is then used to compute the gravitational radiation produced during the plunge phase. Read More

Recently it was conjectured that a certain infinite-dimensional "diagonal" subgroup of BMS supertranslations acting on past and future null infinity (${\mathscr I}^-$ and ${\mathscr I}^+$) is an exact symmetry of the quantum gravity ${\cal S}$-matrix, and an associated Ward identity was derived. In this paper we show that this supertranslation Ward identity is precisely equivalent to Weinberg's soft graviton theorem. Along the way we construct the canonical generators of supertranslations at ${\mathscr I}^\pm$, including the relevant soft graviton contributions. Read More

Dynamics at large redshift near the horizon of an extreme Kerr black hole are governed by an infinite-dimensional conformal symmetry. This symmetry may be exploited to analytically, rather than numerically, compute a variety of potentially observable processes. In this paper we compute and study the conformal transformation properties of the gravitational radiation emitted by an orbiting mass in the large-redshift near-horizon region. Read More

BMS+ transformations act nontrivially on outgoing gravitational scattering data while preserving intrinsic structure at future null infinity (I+). BMS- transformations similarly act on ingoing data at past null infinity (I-). In this paper we apply - within a suitable finite neighborhood of the Minkowski vacuum - results of Christodoulou and Klainerman to link I+ to I- and thereby identify "diagonal" elements BMS0 of (BMS+)X(BMS-). Read More

We conjecture that the level k U(N) Chern-Simons theory coupled to free anticommuting scalar matter in the fundamental is dual to non-minmal higher-spin Vasiliev gravity in dS4 with parity-violating phase \theta0 = \pi N/2k and Neumann boundary conditions for the scalar. Related conjectures are made for fundamental commuting spinor matter and critical theories. This generalizes a recent conjecture relating the minimal Type A Vasiliev theory in dS4 to the Sp(N) model with fundamental real anti-commuting scalars. Read More

Asymptotic symmetries at future null infinity (I+) of Minkowski space for electrodynamics with massless charged fields, as well as non-Abelian gauge theories with gauge group G, are considered at the semiclassical level. The possibility of charge/color flux through I+ suggests the symmetry group is infinite-dimensional. It is conjectured that the symmetries include a G Kac-Moody symmetry whose generators are "large" gauge transformations which approach locally holomorphic functions on the conformal two-sphere at I+ and are invariant under null translations. Read More

A scalar field in four-dimensional deSitter spacetime (dS_4) has quasinormal modes which are singular on the past horizon of the south pole and decay exponentially towards the future. These are found to lie in two complex highest-weight representations of the dS_4 isometry group SO(4,1). The Klein-Gordon norm cannot be used for quantization of these modes because it diverges. Read More

Classical two-dimensional Liouville gravity is often considered in conformal gauge which has a residual left and right Virasoro symmetry algebra. We consider an alternate, chiral, gauge which has a residual right Virasoro Kac-Moody algebra, and no left Virasoro algebra. The Kac-Moody zero mode is the left-moving energy. Read More

New chiral boundary conditions are found for quantum gravity with matter on AdS3. The associated asymptotic symmetry group is generated by a single right-moving U(1) Kac-Moody-Virasoro algebra with c_R = 3l/2G. The Kac-Moody zero mode generates global left-moving translations and equals, for a BTZ black hole, the sum of the total mass and spin. Read More

String theory on NS-NS AdS_3 x S^3 admits an exactly marginal deformation which breaks the SL(2,R)_R x SL(2,R)_L isometry of AdS_3 down to SL(2,R)_R x U(1)_L. The holographic dual is an exotic and only partially understood type of two-dimensional CFT with a reduced unbroken global conformal symmetry group. In this paper we study the deformed theory on the string worldsheet. Read More

A recently conjectured microscopic realization of the dS$_4$/CFT$_3$ correspondence relating Vasiliev's higher-spin gravity on dS$_4$ to a Euclidean $Sp(N)$ CFT$_3$ is used to illuminate some previously inaccessible aspects of the dS/CFT dictionary. In particular it is argued that states of the boundary CFT$_3$ on $S^2$ are holographically dual to bulk states on geodesically complete, spacelike $R^3$ slices which terminate on an $S^2$ at future infinity. The dictionary is described in detail for the case of free scalar excitations. Read More

String theory contains solutions with SL(2,R)_R x U(1)_L-invariant warped AdS3 (WAdS3) factors arising as continuous deformations of ordinary AdS3 factors. We propose that some of these are holographically dual to the IR limits of nonlocal dipole-deformed 2D D-brane gauge theories, referred to as "dipole CFTs". Neither the bulk nor boundary theories are currently well-understood, and consequences of the proposed duality for both sides is investigated. Read More

We conjecture that Vasiliev's theory of higher spin gravity in four-dimensional de Sitter space (dS) is holographically dual to a three-dimensional conformal field theory (CFT) living on the spacelike boundary of dS at future timelike infinity. The CFT is the Euclidean Sp(N) vector model with anticommuting scalars. The free CFT flows under a double-trace deformation to an interacting CFT in the IR. Read More

It is well known that a local, unitary Poincare-invariant 2D QFT with a global scaling symmetry and a discrete non-negative spectrum of scaling dimensions necessarily has both a left and a right local conformal symmetry. In this paper we consider a chiral situation beginning with only a left global scaling symmetry and do not assume Lorentz invariance. We find that a left conformal symmetry is still implied, while right translations are enhanced either to a right conformal symmetry or a left U(1) Kac-Moody symmetry. Read More

We consider finite deformations of the p+2-dimensional Schwarzschild geometry which obey the vacuum Einstein equation, preserve the mean curvature and induced conformal metric on a sphere a distance $\lambda$ from the horizon and are regular on the future horizon. We show perturbatively that in the limit $\lambda$ approaches 0 the deformations are given by solutions of the nonlinear incompressible Navier-Stokes equation on the p-sphere. This relation provides a link between global existence for p-dimensional incompressible Navier-Stokes fluids and a novel form of cosmic censorship in p+2-dimensional general relativity. Read More

We consider asymptotically future de Sitter spacetimes endowed with an eternal observatory. In the conventional descriptions, the conformal metric at the future boundary I^+ is deformed by the flux of gravitational radiation. We however impose an unconventional future "Dirichlet" boundary condition requiring that the conformal metric is flat everywhere except at the conformal point where the observatory arrives at I^+. Read More

Extremal but non-supersymmetric charged black holes with SU(2)_L spin in IIB string theory compactified to five dimensions on K^3 x S^1 are considered. These have a near-horizon or NHEK region with an enhanced SL(2,R)_L conformal symmetry. It is shown that the NHEK geometry has a second, inequivalent, asymptotically flat extension in which the radius of the S^1 becomes infinite but the radius of the angular circles of SU(2)_L orbits approach a constant. Read More

We consider a p+1-dimensional timelike hypersurface \Sigma_c embedded with a flat induced metric in a p+2-dimensional Einstein geometry. It is shown that imposing a Petrov type I condition on the geometry reduces the degrees of freedom in the extrinsic curvature of \Sigma_c to those of a fluid in \Sigma_c. Moreover, expanding around a limit in which the mean curvature of the embedding diverges, the leading-order Einstein constraint equations on \Sigma_c are shown to reduce to the non-linear incompressible Navier-Stokes equation for a fluid moving in \Sigma_c. Read More

We give a short introduction, beginning with the Kerr geometry itself, to the basic results, motivation, open problems and future directions of the Kerr/CFT correspondence. Read More

We show by explicit construction that for every solution of the incompressible Navier-Stokes equation in $p+1$ dimensions, there is a uniquely associated "dual" solution of the vacuum Einstein equations in $p+2$ dimensions. The dual geometry has an intrinsically flat timelike boundary segment $\Sigma_c$ whose extrinsic curvature is given by the stress tensor of the Navier-Stokes fluid. We consider a "near-horizon" limit in which $\Sigma_c$ becomes highly accelerated. Read More

Supersymmetric M/string compactifications to five dimensions contain BPS black string solutions with magnetic graviphoton charge P and near-horizon geometries which are quotients of AdS_3 x S^2. The holographic duals are typically known 2D CFTs with central charges c_L=c_R=6P^3 for large P. These same 5D compactifications also contain non-BPS but extreme Kerr-Newman black hole solutions with SU(2)_L spin J_L and electric graviphoton charge Q obeying Q^3 \leq J_L^2. Read More

The asymptotic symmetry group (ASG) at future null infinity (I^+) of four-dimensional de Sitter spacetimes is defined and shown to be given by the group of three-dimensional diffeomorphisms acting on I^+. Finite charges are constructed for each choice of ASG generator together with a two-surface on I^+. A conservation equation is derived relating the evolution of the charges with the radiation flux through I^+. Read More

The problem of gravitational fluctuations confined inside a finite cutoff at radius $r=r_c$ outside the horizon in a general class of black hole geometries is considered. Consistent boundary conditions at both the cutoff surface and the horizon are found and the resulting modes analyzed. For general cutoff $r_c$ the dispersion relation is shown at long wavelengths to be that of a linearized Navier-Stokes fluid living on the cutoff surface. Read More

Extreme and very-near-extreme spin J Kerr black holes have been conjectured to be holographically dual to two-dimensional (2D) conformal field theories (CFTs) with left and right central charges c_L=c_R=12J. In this paper it is observed that the 2D conformal symmetry of the scalar wave equation at low frequencies persists for generic non-extreme values of the mass M. Interestingly, this conformal symmetry is not derived from a conformal symmetry of the spacetime geometry except in the extreme limit. Read More