(8,0) Quantum mechanics and symmetry enhancement in type I' superstrings

Research paper by Constantin P. Bachas, Michael B. Green, Adam Schwimmer

Indexed on: 02 Mar '98Published on: 02 Mar '98Published in: High Energy Physics - Theory


The low-energy supersymmetric quantum mechanics describing D-particles in the background of D8-branes and orientifold planes is analyzed in detail, including a careful discussion of Gauss' law and normal ordering of operators. This elucidates the mechanism that binds D-particles to an orientifold plane, in accordance with the predictions of heterotic/type I duality. The ocurrence of enhanced symmetries associated with massless bound states of a D-particle with one orientifold plane is illustrated by the enhancement of $SO(14) \times U(1)$ to $E_8$ and $SO(12)\times U(1)$ to $E_7$ at strong type I' coupling. Enhancement to higher-rank groups involves both orientifold planes. For example, the enhanced $E_8 \times E_8 \times SU(2)$ symmetry at the self-dual radius of the heterotic string is seen as the result of two D8-branes coinciding midway between the orientifold planes, while the enhanced $SU(18)$ symmetry results from the coincidence of all sixteen D8-branes and $SO(34)$ when they also coincide with an orientifold plane. As a separate by-product, the s-rule of brane-engineered gauge theories is derived by relating it through a chain of dualities to the Pauli exclusion principle.