Tadpoles and closed string backgrounds in open string field theory

Ian Ellwood, Jessie Shelton, Washington Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate the quantum structure of Witten's cubic open bosonic string field theory by computing the one-loop contribution to the open string tadpole using both oscillator and conformal field theory methods. We find divergences and a breakdown of BRST invariance in the tadpole diagram arising from tachyonic and massless closed string states, and we discuss ways of treating these problems. For a Dp-brane with sufficiently many transverse dimensions, the tadpole can be rendered finite by analytically continuing the closed string tachyon by hand; this diagram then naturally incorporates the (linearized) shift of the closed string background due to the presence of the brane. We observe that divergences at higher loops will doom any straightforward attempt at analyzing general quantum effects in bosonic open string field theory on a Dp-brane of any dimension, but our analysis does not uncover any potential obstacles to the existence of a sensible quantum open string field theory in the supersymmetric case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1383-1431
Number of pages49
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • BRST Symmetry
  • Bosonic Strings
  • D-branes
  • String Field Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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