Minimal surfaces and particles in 3-manifolds

Research paper by Kirill Krasnov, Jean-Marc Schlenker

Indexed on: 01 Jan '06Published on: 01 Jan '06Published in: Mathematics - Differential Geometry


We use minimal (or CMC) surfaces to describe 3-dimensional hyperbolic, anti-de Sitter, de Sitter or Minkowski manifolds. We consider whether these manifolds admit ``nice'' foliations and explicit metrics, and whether the space of these metrics has a simple description in terms of Teichm\"uller theory. In the hyperbolic settings both questions have positive answers for a certain subset of the quasi-Fuchsian manifolds: those containing a closed surface with principal curvatures at most 1. We show that this subset is parameterized by an open domain of the cotangent bundle of Teichm\"uller space. These results are extended to ``quasi-Fuchsian'' manifolds with conical singularities along infinite lines, known in the physics literature as ``massive, spin-less particles''. Things work better for globally hyperbolic anti-de Sitter manifolds: the parameterization by the cotangent of Teichm\"uller space works for all manifolds. There is another description of this moduli space as the product two copies of Teichm\"uller space due to Mess. Using the maximal surface description, we propose a new parameterization by two copies of Teichm\"uller space, alternative to that of Mess, and extend all the results to manifolds with conical singularities along time-like lines. Similar results are obtained for de Sitter or Minkowski manifolds. Finally, for all four settings, we show that the symplectic form on the moduli space of 3-manifolds that comes from parameterization by the cotangent bundle of Teichm\"uller space is the same as the 3-dimensional gravity one.