Axion anomalies

Peter Adshead, Kaloian D. Lozanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study fermions derivatively coupled to axion-like or pseudoscalar fields, and show that the axial vector current of the fermions is not conserved in the limit where the fermion is massless. This apparent violation of the classical chiral symmetry is due to the background axion field. We compute the contributions to this anomalous Ward identity due to the pseudoscalar field alone, which arise in Minkowski space, as well as the effects due to an interaction with an external gravitational field. For the case of massless fermions, these interactions induce terms in the axion effective action that can be removed by the addition of local counterterms. We demonstrate that these counterterms are generated by the transformation of the path integral measure when transforming the theory from a form where the chiral symmetry is manifest to one where the symmetry is only apparent after using the classical equations of motion. We work perturbatively in Minkowski space and include the effects of interactions with a linearized gravitational field. Using the heat kernel method, we study the transformation properties of the path integral measure, and include the effects of non-linear gravity as well as interactions with gauge fields. Finally, we verify our relation by considering derivatively coupled fermions during pseudoscalar-driven inflation and computing the divergence of the axial current in de Sitter spacetime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number77
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Anomalies in Field and String Theories
  • Cosmology of Theories beyond the SM
  • Nonperturbative Effects
  • Topological Field Theories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'Axion anomalies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this