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Journal Article

The Involutive System of Higher-Spin Equations


Rahman,  Rakibur
Quantum Gravity & Unified Theories, AEI-Golm, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Rahman, R. (2021). The Involutive System of Higher-Spin Equations. Nuclear Physics B, 964: 115325. doi:10.1016/j.nuclphysb.2021.115325.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-7003-8
We revisit the problem of consistent free propagation of higher-spin fields in nontrivial backgrounds, focusing on symmetric tensor(-spinor)s. The Fierz-Pauli equations for massive fields in flat space form an involutive system, whose algebraic consistency owes to certain gauge identities. The zero mass limit of the former leads directly to massless higher-spin equations in the transverse-traceless gauge, where both the field and the gauge parameter have their respective involutive systems and gauge identities. In nontrivial backgrounds, it is the preservation of these gauge identities and symmetries that ensures the correct number of propagating degrees of freedom. With this approach we find consistent sets of equations for massive and massless higher-spin bosons and fermions in certain gravitational/electromagnetic backgrounds. We also present the involutive system of partially massless fields, and give an explicit form of their gauge transformations. We consider the Lie superalgebra of the operators on symmetric tensor(-spinor)s in flat space, and show that in AdS space the algebra closes nonlinearly and requires a central extension.