Higher Spin Gravitational Couplings and the Yang--Mills Detour Complex
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Higher Spin Gravitational Couplings and the Yang--Mills Detour Complex

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Gravitational interactions of higher spin fields are generically plagued by inconsistencies. We present a simple framework that couples higher spins to a broad class of gravitational backgrounds (including Ricci flat and Einstein) consistently at the classical level. The model is the simplest example of a Yang--Mills detour complex, which recently has been applied in the mathematical setting of conformal geometry. An analysis of asymptotic scattering states about the trivial field theory vacuum in the simplest version of the theory yields a rich spectrum marred by negative norm excitations. The result is a theory of a physical massless graviton, scalar field, and massive vector along with a degenerate pair of zero norm photon excitations. Coherent states of the unstable sector of the model do have positive norms, but their evolution is no longer unitary and their amplitudes grow with time. The model is of considerable interest for braneworld scenarios and ghost condensation models, and invariant theory.

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