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October 18, 2007

Maloney on 2+1

We had Alex Maloney visiting us this week, and he gave a lovely talk about his forthcoming paper with Edward Witten on 2+1 gravity with negative cosmological constant.

You’ll recall that Witten’s proposal is that the dual CFT has a partition function of the form

(1)Z(τ,τ¯)=|χ k(q)| 2Z(\tau,\overline{\tau}) = {\left|\chi_k(q)\right|}^2

where the central charge c=24k=3/2Gc=24k= 3\ell/2G, with \ell the radius of AdS3. χ 1(q)\chi_1(q) is the partition function of the famous Monster Module. For higher kk, the first primary state above the ground state (h=0h=0) has h=k+1h=k+1. One can systematically write down the χ k(q)\chi_k(q), but it is not known whether they, in fact, correspond to bona fide CFTs. Indeed, Gaberdiel had presented a strong (though not air-tight) argument that they cannot, for sufficiently large kk (k42k\geq 42).

If Gaberdiel is correct, then, either the proposal (1) is wrong, or there is no semiclassical regime for 2+1 gravity1. In either case you can stop reading this post. If not, then an interesting question arises. Semiclassically, we expect there to be a Hawking-Page transition between hot AdS space (with inverse temperature β=Im(τ)\beta=Im(\tau)) and the AdS BTZ blackhole. Indeed, as a function of complex τ\tau, you expect a complicated phase structure, given by the fundamental domains for the action of SL(2,)SL(2,\mathbb{Z}).

When we Wick rotate to Euclidean time, the boundary is a torus, Σ\Sigma, of modular parameter, τ\tau. Semiclassically, we expect a single bulk geometry2 to dominate: a handlebody (a solid torus), MM, whose boundary is Σ\Sigma. This involves a choice of cycle, γ=pα+qβ\gamma= p\alpha +q\beta, with (p,q)(p,q) coprime, such that γ\gamma is contractible in MM. The usual Hawking-Page transition is the flip between when spatial circle is contractible (hot AdS) and when the Euclidean time-circle is contractible (the blackhole). But, in 2+1 dimensions, the phase structure is much richer.

One thing that might puzzle you, in this regard, is how there can be a phase transition, in light of (1), where the χ k(q)\chi_k(q) are manifestly analytic. The answer is that χ k(q)\chi_k(q) have kk zeroes along the phase boundaries and, in the large-kk limit, these zeroes become dense, leading to the desired non-analytic behaviour.

In a phrase: Hawking-Page is Lee-Yang!


1 There are other troubling aspects to (1). As I emphasized in my previous post, there are states of the CFT, which are the ground state h¯=0\overline{h}=0 on the right, and some primary state (with hk+1h\geq k+1) on the left. These correspond to super-rotating BTZ blackholes, which have naked singularities, closed timelike curves, and generally look kinda sick in the semiclassical regime (kk\to\infty, with h/kh/k fixed).

2 A slight (but only slight) complication is that they must use complex saddle points of the Euclidean action.

Posted by distler at October 18, 2007 11:52 PM

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3 Comments & 1 Trackback

Re: Maloney on 2+1

But what is the new idea here ?

Also in the dual of the usual SUSY AdS_3xS^3xT^4 gravity there is a 2d CFT which should capture the intricate phase structure (maybe the mechanism is the same). It is again roughly classified by SL(2,Z) (actually one should mod out by actions of T from the left).

Posted by: ori on October 20, 2007 7:46 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Maloney on 2+1

But what is the new idea here ?

That, in fact, the χ k(q)\chi_k(q) exhibit the Lee-Yang phenomenon?

Also in the dual of the usual SUSY AdS 3×S 3×T 4{}_3\times S^3\times T^4 gravity there is a 2d CFT which should capture the intricate phase structure (maybe the mechanism is the same)

I don’t believe the exact partition function is known, much less whether it exhibits the Lee-Yang phenomenon.

In that case, we have plenty of reasons to believe what AdS/CFT tells us. Here, there is real reason to doubt the validity of (1). So gathering evidence that (1) behaves correctly (e.g., exhibits the expected phase structure of Hawking-Page transitions, in the kk\to\infty limit) would seem to be important, no?

Posted by: Jacques Distler on October 20, 2007 8:45 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Maloney on 2+1

In the case of NSNS string theory the partition function is known exactly and the phase diagram can be found from the cft point of view rather easily. I have not checked this but it may very well be that the partition function exhibits the same LY phenomenon at large curvature.

Posted by: ori on October 28, 2007 6:58 AM | Permalink | Reply to this
Read the post Extremal CFTs
Weblog: Musings
Excerpt: Yet more on 2+1 gravity.
Tracked: January 30, 2008 10:39 AM

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