Point-particle effective field theory III: relativistic fermions and the Dirac equation Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We formulate point-particle effective field theory (PPEFT) for relativistic spin-half fermions interacting with a massive, charged finite-sized source using a first-quantized effective field theory for the heavy compact object and a second-quantized language for the lighter fermion with which it interacts. This description shows how to determine the near-source boundary condition for the Dirac field in terms of the relevant physical properties of the source, and reduces to the standard choices in the limit of a point source. Using a first-quantized effective description is appropriate when the compact object is sufficiently heavy, and is simpler than (though equivalent to) the effective theory that treats the compact source in a second-quantized way. As an application we use the PPEFT to parameterize the leading energy shift for the bound energy levels due to finite-sized source effects in a model-independent way, allowing these effects to be fit in precision measurements. Besides capturing finite-source-size effects, the PPEFT treatment also efficiently captures how other short-distance source interactions can shift bound-state energy levels, such as due to vacuum polarization (through the Uehling potential) or strong interactions for Coulomb bound states of hadrons, or any hypothetical new short-range forces sourced by nuclei.

publication date

  • September 2017