Gravitational instabilities and censorship of large scalar field excursions

Patrick Draper, Szilard Farkas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large, localized variations of light scalar fields tend to collapse into black holes, dynamically “censoring” distant points in field space. We show that in some cases, large scalar excursions in asymptotically flat spacetimes can be UV-completed by smooth Kaluza-Klein bubble geometries, appearing to circumvent 4d censorship arguments. However, these spacetimes also exhibit classical instabilities related to the collapse or expansion of a bubble of nothing, providing a different censorship mechanism. We show that the Kerr family of static KK bubbles, which gives rise to an infinite scalar excursion upon dimensional reduction, is classically unstable. We construct a family of initial data in which the static bubbles sit at a local maximum of the energy, and we give a general argument that such a property indeed indicates mechanical instability in gravity. We also discuss the behavior of wound strings near a bubble, a local probe of the large traversal through moduli space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number158
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Classical Theories of Gravity
  • Effective Field Theories
  • Field Theories in Higher Dimensions
  • Solitons Monopoles and Instantons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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