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Causality and Micro-Causality in Curved Spacetime / Timothy Hollowood; Graham Shore

Phys. Lett. B, Volume: 655, Pages: 67 - 74

Swansea University Authors: Timothy, Hollowood, Graham, Shore

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DOI (Published version): 10.1016/j.physletb.2007.08.073

Abstract

It has been known for a long time that vacuum polarization in QED leads to a superluminal low-frequency phase velocity for light propagating in curved spacetime. Assuming the validity of the Kramers-Kronig dispersion relation, this would imply a superluminal wavefront velocity and the violation of c...

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Published in: Phys. Lett. B
Published: Elsevier 2007
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa1530
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Abstract: It has been known for a long time that vacuum polarization in QED leads to a superluminal low-frequency phase velocity for light propagating in curved spacetime. Assuming the validity of the Kramers-Kronig dispersion relation, this would imply a superluminal wavefront velocity and the violation of causality. Here, we calculate for the first time the full frequency dependence of the refractive index using world-line sigma model techniques together with the Penrose plane wave limit of spacetime in the neighbourhood of a null geodesic. We find that the high-frequency limit of the phase velocity (i.e. the wavefront velocity) is always equal to c and causality is assured. However, the Kramers-Kronig dispersion relation is violated due to a non-analyticity of the refractive index in the upper-half complex plane, whose origin may be traced to the generic focusing property of null geodesic congruences and the existence of conjugate points. This puts into question the issue of micro-causality, i.e. the vanishing of commutators of field operators at spacelike separated points, in local quantum field theory in curved spacetime.
Item Description: Analyses how causality and micro-causality are realised in quantum field theories in curved spacetime. The frequency dependence of the refractive index for QED in curved spacetime is calculated for the first time, showing how superluminal low-frequency propagation is compatible with causality.
College: College of Science
Start Page: 67
End Page: 74