Indexed on: 08 Nov '16Published on: 08 Nov '16Published in: arXiv - General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology
We present a new method for evaluating the response of a moving qubit detector interacting with a scalar field in Minkowski spacetime. We treat the detector as an open quantum system, but we do not invoke the Markov approximation. The evolution equations for the qubit density matrix are valid at all times, for all qubit trajectories and they incorporate non-Markovian effects. We analyze in detail the case of uniform acceleration, providing a detailed characterization of all regimes where non-Markovian effects are significant. We argue that the most stable characterization of acceleration temperature refers to the late time behavior of the detector, because interaction with the field vacuum brings the qubit to a thermal state at the Unruh temperature. In contrast, the early-time transition rate, that is invoked in most discussions of acceleration temperature, does not exhibit a thermal behavior when non-Markovian effects are taken into account. Finally, we note that the non-Markovian evolution derived here also applies to the mathematically equivalent problem of a static qubit interacting with a thermal field bath.