Infinite distances in field space and massless towers of states

Thomas W. Grimm, Eran Palti, Irene Valenzuela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

204 Scopus citations


It has been conjectured that in theories consistent with quantum gravity infinite distances in field space coincide with an infinite tower of states becoming massless exponentially fast in the proper field distance. The complex-structure moduli space of Calabi-Yau manifolds is a good testing ground for this conjecture since it is known to encode quantum gravity physics. We study infinite distances in this setting and present new evidence for the above conjecture. Points in moduli space which are at infinite proper distance along any path are characterised by an infinite order monodromy matrix. We utilise the nilpotent orbit theorem to show that for a large class of such points the monodromy matrix generates an infinite orbit within the spectrum of BPS states. We identify an infinite tower of states with this orbit. Further, the theorem gives the local metric on the moduli space which can be used to show that the mass of the states decreases exponentially fast upon approaching the point. We also propose a reason for why infinite distances are related to infinite towers of states. Specifically, we present evidence that the infinite distance itself is an emergent quantum phenomenon induced by integrating out at one-loop the states that become massless. Concretely, we show that the behaviour of the field space metric upon approaching infinite distance can be recovered from integrating out the BPS states. Similarly, at infinite distance the gauge couplings of closed-string Abelian gauge symmetries vanish in a way which can be matched onto integrating out the infinite tower of charged BPS states. This presents evidence towards the idea that also the gauge theory weak-coupling limit can be thought of as emergent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number143
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • D-branes
  • Differential and Algebraic Geometry
  • Effective Field Theories
  • Superstring Vacua

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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