nLab
background field

Context

Physics

physics, mathematical physics, philosophy of physics

Surveys, textbooks and lecture notes


theory (physics), model (physics)

experiment, measurement, computable physics

Quantum field theory

Contents

Idea

General

In physics, the fields in (pre-)quantum field theory whose dynamics is described by the theory may in general depend on certain fixed structure which also has an interpretation of a field, but one that is fixed and not regarded as having dynamics in the given model (in theoretical physics). These are often called background fields.

For sigma-models

In particuar a sigma-model quantum field theory describes the propagation of a brane on some target space XX. Typically the dynamics is controled by a gauge field on XX under which the brane is charged. This is the background gauge field of the σ\sigma-model. The term “background” alludes to the fact that this background gauge field is fixed and only serves to influence the dynamics of the brane coupled to it. More generally, one could also study the quantum dynamics of the possible background fields themselves. This would be given by the corresponding gauge theory on XX.

Definition

A formalization of the notion is discussed at field in Definition – Physical fields.

Examples

Revised on May 27, 2016 05:27:14 by Tim Porter (90.12.99.146)