- Faddeev–Popov ghost
physics, Faddeev-Popov ghosts (also called ghost fields) are additional fields which need to be introduced in the realization of gauge theoriesas consistent quantum field theories. There is also a more general meaning of the word "ghost" in theoretical physics, which is discussed in the section on General ghosts in theoretical physics.
Overcounting in Feynman path integrals
The necessity for Faddeev-Popov ghosts follows from the requirement that in the
path integral formulationof quantum field theories, the path integrals should not overcount field configurations related by gauge symmetries since those correspond to the same physical state. Consequently, the measure of the path integrals contains an additional factor, which does not allow obtaining various results directly from the action using the regular methods (e.g., Feynman diagrams). It is possible, however, to modify the action such that the regular methods will be applicable. This often requires adding some additional fields, which are called the "ghost fields". This technique is called the Faddeev-Popov procedure (see also BRST quantization). The ghost fields are a computational tool, and they do not correspond to any real particles in external states: they "only" appear as virtual particles in Feynman diagrams.
pin-statistics relation violated
The Faddeev-Popov ghosts violate the
Gauge fields and associated ghost fields
Every gauge field has an associated ghost, and where the gauge field acquires a mass via the
Higgs mechanism, the associated ghost field acquires the same mass (in the Feynman-'t Hooft gauge only, not true for other gauges).
Appearance in Feynman diagrams
Feynman diagrams the ghosts appear as closed loops, attached to the rest of the diagram via a gauge particle at each vertex. Their contribution to the S-matrix is exactly cancelled (in the Feynman-'t Hooft gauge) by a contribution from a similar loop of gauge particles with only 3-vertex couplings or gauge attachments to the rest of the diagram. (A loop of gauge particles not wholly composed of 3-vertex couplings is not cancelled by ghosts.) The opposite sign of the contribution of the ghost and gauge loops is due to them having opposite fermionic/bosonic natures. (Closed fermion loops have an extra -1 associated with them; bosonic loops don't.)
Ghost field Lagrangian
The Lagrangian for the ghost fields in Yang-Mills theories (where is an index in the adjoint representation of the
gauge group) is given by:The first term is a kinetic term like for regular complex scalar fields, and the second term describes the interaction with the gauge fields. Note that in "abelian" gauge theories (such as quantum electrodynamics) the ghosts do not have any effect since and, consequently, the ghost particles do not interact with the gauge fields.
General ghosts in theoretical physics
The Faddeev-Popov ghosts are sometimes referred to as "good ghosts". The "bad ghosts" represent another, more general meaning of the word "ghost" in
theoretical physics: states of negative norm—or fields with the wrong sign of the kinetic term, such as Pauli-Villars ghosts—whose existence allows the probabilities to be negative.
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