Infoscience

Thesis

Non-perturbative processes with Fermion number non-conservation in different models of particle physics

When a classical conservation law is broken by quantum corrections, the associated symmetry is said to be anomalous. This type of symmetry breaking can lead to interesting physics. For instance in strong interactions, the anomaly in the chiral current is important in the pion decay to two photons. In weak interactions, there is an anomaly in the baryon number current. Although anomalous baryon number violating transitions are strongly suppressed at small energies, they could be at the origin of the baryon asymmetry of the universe. In this thesis, we consider several issues related to the theoretical and phenomenological aspects of anomalies. Although our main aim is the study of the electroweak theory, most of the theoretical questions do not rely on its precise setup. In order to solve these problems, we design a 1+1 dimensional chiral Abelian Higgs model displaying similar nonperturbative physics as the electroweak theory and leading to many simplifications. This model contains sphaleron and instanton transitions and, as the electroweak theory, leads to anomalous fermion number nonconservation. The one-loop fermionic contribution to the probability of an instanton transition with fermion number violation is calculated in the chiral Abelian Higgs model where the fermions have a Yukawa coupling to the scalar field. These contributions are given by the determinant of the fermionic fluctuations. The dependence of the determinant on fermionic, scalar and vector mass is determined. We also show in detail how to renormalize the fermionic determinant in partial wave analysis. The 1+1 dimensional model has the remarkable property to enable the creation of an odd number of fractionally charged fermions. We point out that for 1+1 dimensions this process does not violate any symmetries of the theory, nor does it lead to any mathematical inconsistencies. We construct the proper definition of the fermionic determinant in this model and underline its non-trivial features that are of importance for realistic 3+1 dimensional models with fermion number violation. In theories with anomalous fermion number nonconservation, the level crossing picture is considered a faithful representation of the fermionic quantum number variation. It represents each created fermion by an energy level that crosses the zero-energy line from below. If several fermions of various masses are created, the level crossing picture contains several levels that cross the zero-energy line and cross each other. However, we know from quantum mechanics that the corresponding levels cannot cross if the different fermions are mixed via some interaction potential. The simultaneous application of these two requirements on the level behavior leads to paradoxes. For instance, a naive interpretation of the resulting level crossing picture gives rise to charge nonconservation. We resolve this paradox by a precise calculation of the transition probability, and discuss what are the implications for the electroweak theory. In particular, the nonperturbative transition probability is higher if top quarks are present in the initial state. Coming back to the electroweak theory, we point out that the results of many baryogenesis scenarios operating at or below the TeV scale are rather sensitive to the rate of anomalous fermion number violation across the electroweak crossover. Assuming the validity of the Standard Model of electroweak interactions, we estimate this rate for experimentally allowed values of the Higgs mass (mH = 100…300 GeV). We also discuss where the rate enters in the particle density evolution and how to compute the leading baryonic asymmetry.

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