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Publication# (Re-)inventing the relativistic wheel: gravity, cosets, and spinning objects

Résumé

Space-time symmetries are a crucial ingredient of any theoretical model in physics. Unlike internal symmetries, which may or may not be gauged and/or spontaneously broken, space-time symmetries do not admit any ambiguity: they are gauged by gravity, and any conceivable physical system (other than the vacuum) is bound to break at least some of them. Motivated by this observation, we study how to couple gravity with the Goldstone fields that non-linearly realize spontaneously broken space-time symmetries. This can be done in complete generality by weakly gauging the Poincare symmetry group in the context of the coset construction. To illustrate the power of this method, we consider three kinds of physical systems coupled to gravity: superfluids, relativistic membranes embedded in a higher dimensional space, and rotating point-like objects. This last system is of particular importance as it can be used to model spinning astrophysical objects like neutron stars and black holes. Our approach provides a systematic and unambiguous parametrization of the degrees of freedom of these systems.

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In theories with a large number N of particle species, black hole physics imposes an upper bound on the mass of the species equal to M-Planck/root N. This bound suggests a novel solution to the hierarchy problem in which there are N approximate to 10(32) gravitationally coupled species, for example 10(32) copies of the standard model. The black hole bound forces them to be at the weak scale, hence providing a stable hierarchy. We present various arguments, that in such theories the effective gravitational cutoff is reduced to Lambda(G)approximate to M-Planck/root N and a new description is needed around this scale. In particular, black holes smaller than Lambda(-1)(G) are already no longer semiclassical. The nature of the completion is model dependent. One natural possibility is that Lambda(G) is the quantum gravity scale. We provide evidence that within this type of scenarios, contrary to the standard intuition, micro-black-holes have a (slowly fading) memory of the species of origin. Consequently, the black holes produced at LHC will predominantly decay into the standard model particles, and negligibly into the other species.

2008In this work we address one of the phenomenological issues of beyond the Standard Model scenarios which embed Supersymmetry, namely the Supersymmetric Flavour Problem, in the context of String Theory. Indeed, the addition of new interactions to the Standard Model generically spoils its flavour structure which is one of its major achievements since it for example leads to a very elegant understanding of the absence of flavour changing neutral currents in the leptonic sector and of the stability of the proton, thanks to accidental symmetries. We focus on a subset of the phenomenologically dangerous operators, namely the soft scalar masses. One way out of the Supersymmetric Flavour Problem is to geographically separate the observable and hidden sectors along a fifth dimension, gravity being the only interaction propagating in the bulk. In such scenarios, the soft scalar masses are vanishing at the classical level since there is no direct contact term between the observable and hidden multiplets and tend to be universal at the loop-level. However such setups hardly ever come about in String Theory, which is one of the most promising candidates of quantum gravity. In order to make contact with the five-dimensional picture, we focus on the prototypical case of the E8 × E8 Heterotic M-Theory which, in a certain regime, effectively looks five-dimensional and embeds matter fields on two end-of-the-world branes. In these scenarios, not only gravity but also vector multiplets propagate in the five-dimensional bulk, effectively spoiling the sequestered picture. However, since the contact terms responsible for the appearance of soft scalar masses arise due to the exchange of heavy vectors, they do enjoy a current-current structure which can be exploited to inhibit the emergence of soft scalar masses by postulating a global symmetry in the hidden sector. In order to assess the possibility of realising such a mechanism, we first study the full dependence of the Kähler potential on both the moduli and the matter fields in the case of orbifold and Calabi-Yau compactifications. We then determine whether an effective sequestering may be achieved thanks to a global symmetry and argue that whereas for orbifold models our strategy can naturally be put at work, it can only be implemented in a subset of Calabi-Yau models.

Symmetries are omnipresent and play a fundamental role in the description of Nature. Thanks to them, we have at our disposal nontrivial selection rules that dictate how a theory should be constructed. This thesis, which is naturally divided into two parts, is devoted to the broad physical implications that spacetime symmetries can have on the systems that posses them. In the first part, we focus on local symmetries. We review in detail the techniques of a self-consistent framework -- the coset construction -- that we employed in order to discuss the dynamics of the theories of interest. The merit of this approach lies in that we can make the (spacetime) symmetry group act internally and thus, be effectively separated from coordinate transformations. We investigate under which conditions it is not needed to introduce extra compensating fields to make relativistic as well as nonrelativistic theories invariant under local spacetime symmetries and more precisely under scale (Weyl) transformations. In addition, we clarify the role that the field strength associated with shifts (torsion) plays in this context. We also highlight the difference between the frequently mixed concepts of Weyl and conformal invariance and we demonstrate that not all conformal theories (in flat or curved spacetime), can be coupled to gravity in a Weyl invariant way. Once this ``minimalistic'' treatment for gauging symmetries is left aside, new possibilities appear. Namely, if we consider the Poincar'e group, the presence of the compensating modes leads to nontrivial particle dynamics. We investigate in detail their behavior and we derive constraints such that the theory is free from pathologies. In the second part of the thesis, we make clear that even when not gauged, the presence of spontaneously broken (global) scale invariance can be quite appealing. First of all, it makes possible for the various dimensionful parameters that appear in a theory to be generated dynamically and be sourced by the vacuum expectation value of the Goldstone boson of the nonlinearly realized symmetry -- the dilaton. If the Standard Model of particle physics is embedded into a scale-invariant framework, a number of interesting implications for cosmology arise. As it turns out, the early inflationary stage of our Universe and its present-day acceleration become linked, a connection that might give us some insight into the dark energy dynamics. Moreover, we show that in the context of gravitational theories which are invariant under restricted coordinate transformations, the dilaton instead of being introduced ad hoc, can emerge from the gravitational part of a theory. Finally, we discuss the consequences of the nontrivial way this field emerges in the action.