Strings at finite temperature: Wilson lines, free energies, and the thermal landscape

Keith R. Dienes, Michael Lennek, Menika Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


According to the standard prescriptions, zero-temperature string theories can be extended to finite temperature by compactifying their time directions on a so-called "thermal circle" and implementing certain orbifold twists. However, the existence of a topologically nontrivial thermal circle leaves open the possibility that a gauge flux can pierce this circle-i.e., that a nontrivial Wilson line (or equivalently a nonzero chemical potential) might be involved in the finite-temperature extension. In this paper, we concentrate on the zero-temperature heterotic and TypeI strings in ten dimensions, and survey the possible Wilson lines which might be introduced in their finite-temperature extensions. We find a rich structure of possible thermal string theories, some of which even have nontraditional Hagedorn temperatures, and we demonstrate that these new thermal string theories can be interpreted as extrema of a continuous thermal free-energy "landscape." Our analysis also uncovers a unique finite-temperature extension of the heterotic SO(32) and E 8× E 8 strings which involves a nontrivial Wilson line, but which-like the traditional finite-temperature extension without Wilson lines-is metastable in this thermal landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number066007
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 17 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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