Virtual and thermal Schwinger processes

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Electric flux may be screened by pair nucleation of heavy charges, a process that has a simple description in terms of a worldline instanton. When flux is wrapped around a small compact spatial dimension, worldline instantons still induce flux dissipation, but the leading process does not create real charged pairs. Instead, dissipation can be described in effective field theory as the production of long-wavelength scalar quanta via parametric resonance. The rate is computed semiclassically, and comments are made on the related problem of pair creation at finite temperature, for which differing results appear in the literature. Flux dissipation and the weak gravity conjecture together imply that the proper distance in field space a homogeneous axion field can traverse is bounded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125014
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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