Synopsis: Building a tower out of the vacuum

In particle physics theory, the presence of multiple metastable vacua gives rise to new possibilities for transitions between energy states.
Synopsis figure

The vacuum, in particle physics language, is the ground state of a theory. A metastable vacuum is a local minimum of the theory but not the true ground state. If a system is prepared initially in a metastable state it will eventually decay through tunneling to the true ground state.

The role of metastable states in particle physics has expanded considerably with the realization that supersymmetric field theories can be phenomenologically viable even when no ground state breaks supersymmetry spontaneously. These scenarios require long-lived metastable states that do not preserve supersymmetry.

In work appearing in Physical Review D, Keith Dienes and Brooks Thomas of the University of Arizona study decays of metastable ground states of supersymmetric theories with multiple “photons” (a theoretical extension of our usual notion) and matter that is charged with respect to two distinct photons. The authors show that these theories can be arranged to have multiple metastable states allowing for complex decay patterns to lower energy states. The authors find a rich array of possibilities, including collapsing decays to the lowest energy state, cascades through multiple intermediate energy metastable states, and more surprisingly perhaps, states into which decays are not possible. – Ansar Fayyazuddin


Features

More Features »

Subject Areas

Particles and FieldsString Theory

Previous Synopsis

Magnetism

Cooling with magnets

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Related Articles

Synopsis: Restricting the Fifth Force
Gravitation

Synopsis: Restricting the Fifth Force

Observations of the orbits of two stars at the center of the Milky Way constrain gravitational models involving a hypothetical fifth force. Read More »

Synopsis: Antiprotons May Hold Dark Matter Signal
Cosmology

Synopsis: Antiprotons May Hold Dark Matter Signal

Recently released data on cosmic-ray antiprotons may contain hints of dark matter, as revealed by two new analyses. Read More »

Viewpoint: Probing Quarkonium Production in Jets
Particles and Fields

Viewpoint: Probing Quarkonium Production in Jets

A study of J∕𝜓 production in jets reveals the weaknesses of a widely used method of simulating high-energy particle collisions. Read More »

More Articles