Gluons are not all the story: An update


In a recent post of mine (see here) I have pointed out to you a beautiful paper by Dan Pirjol and Carlos Schat. This paper is now appeared on Physical Review Letters (see here) but you can find also the preprint on arxiv (see here). I think its content is really important as it gives a serious clue toward our understanding of low-energy QCD. Dan agreed to publish here a contribution about his work and I am glad to post it.

We find that, within experimental errors on the hadron masses, the
so-called gluon-exchange model (OGE) is disfavored by data. This is probably not very  surprising, since at low energies the real degrees of freedom of QCD should include, in addition to the  gluons, also pions (the Goldstone bosons of the spontaneously broken  chiral symmetry). The OGE model does not include the pion exchange effects; an alternative to the OGE model  which includes their effects is the so-called GBE (Goldstone boson exchange) model.

There has been a long-standing debate about the most appropriate model
of quark forces in the framework of the constituent quark model, in  particular about their spin-flavor dependence. The main candidates are
the OGE and GBE models (see e.g. the second paper in Ref.[3] for a
discussion of this controversy). Our letter attempts to resolve this controversy using only minimal assumptions about the orbital dependence
of the hadronic wave functions. More precisely, we assume only isospin
symmetry, but no other assumption is made about the form of the wave
functions. The novel mathematical tool which makes our analysis possible is the application of the permutation group S_3, which allows one to study the implications of the most general spin-flavor structure of the quark forces.

Gluons are not all the story


In a short time, Physical Review Letters will publish a shocking paper by Dan Pirjol and Carlos Schat with a proof of the fact that a simple gluon exchange model for bound states of QCD does not work. The preprint is here. The conclusions drawn by the authors imply that one cannot expect a simple idea of free gluons exchanged by quarks to work. I think the readers of this blog may be aware of the reason why this conclusion is correct and PRL will publish an important paper.

The idea is that, in the low energy limit, the nonlinearities in the Yang-Mills equations modify completely the properties of the glue. We can call these excitations gluons only in the high energy limit were asymptotic freedom grants that nonlinearities can be treated as small perturbations and gluons are what we are acquainted with. But when we have to cope with bound states, we are in a serious trouble as our knowledge of this regime of QCD is really very few helpful for our understanding.

This result of Pirjol and Schat should be taken together with the measurements of the COMPASS Collaboration (see my post) about the spin of the protons. They proved that glue does not contribute to form the spin of the proton. Collecting together all this a conclusion to be drawn is that the high energy excitations of a Yang-Mills theory cannot be the same of the excitations in the low energy limit.

So, let’s move on and take a better look at our equations.

What makes the proton spin?


There is currently a beautiful puzzle to be answered that relies on sound and beautiful experimental results. The question is how the components of a proton, that is quarks and gluons, concur to determine the value one half for the spin of the particle. During the conference QCD 08 at Montpellier I listened to a beatiful presentation of Joerg Pretz of the COMPASS Collaboration (see here and here). Hearing these results was stunning for me. I explain the reasons in a few words. The spin of the proton should be composed by the spin of the quarks, the contributions of gluons (gluons???) and orbital angular momentum. What happens is that the spin of quarks does not contribute too much. People then thought that the contribution of gluons (gluons again???) should have been decisive. The COMPASS Collaboration realized a beautiful experiment using charmed mesons. This experiment has been described by Pretz at QCD 08. They proved in a striking way that the contribution of the glue to proton spin can be zero and cannot be used to account for the particle spin. Of course, there are beautiful papers around that are able to explain how the proton spin comes out. I have found for example a paper by Thomas and Myhrer at Jefferson Lab (see here and here) that describes quite well an understanding of the puzzle and surely is worthwhile reading. But my question is another: Why the glue  does not contribute?

From our preceding posts one should have reached immediately an answer, the same that come out to my mind when I listened Pretz’s talk. The reason is that, in the infrared, gluons that have spin one are not the true carriers of the strong force. The true carriers have no spin unless higher excited states are considered. This explains why COMPASS experiment did not see any contribution consistently with previous expectations.

This is again a strong support to our description of the gluon propagator (see here). No other theory around shows this.

The interquark potential


In our initial post about quarkonia we have derived the interquark potential from the gluon propagator. In this post we want to deepen this matter being this central to all hadronic bound states. The gluon propagator is given by





m_n = (2n+1)\frac{\pi}{2K(i)}\sqrt{\sigma}

with \sqrt{\sigma}=0.44 GeV being \sigma the string tension that is just an integration constant of Yang-Mills theory, arising from conformal invariance, to be fixed experimentally. We have obtained this propagator in a series of papers starting from a massless scalar theory. The most relevant of them is here. It is immediate to recognize that this propagator is just an infinite superposition of Yukawa propagators. But the expectations from effective theories are quite different (see Brambilla’s CERN yellow report here). Indeed, a largely used interquark potential is given by

V(r)=-\frac{a}{r}+\sigma r +b

but this potential is just phenomenological and not derived from QCD. Rather, as pointed out by Gocharov (see here) this potential is absolutely not a solution of QCD. We note that it would be if the linear term is just neglected as happens at very small distances where

V_C(r)\approx -\frac{a}{r}+b.

We can derive this potential from the gluon propagator imposing p_0=0 and Fourier transforming in space obtaining

V(r)=-\frac{\alpha_s}{r}\sum_{n=0}^\infty B_n e^{-m_n r}

and we can Taylor expand the exponential in r obtaining

V(r)\approx -\frac{\alpha_s}{r}+Ar+b

but we see immediately that A=0 and so no linear term exists in the potential for heavy quarkonia! This means that we can formulate a relativistic theory of heavy quarkonia by solving the Dirac equation for the corresponding Coulombic-like potential whose solution is well-known and adding the b constant. We will discuss such a spectrum in future posts.

For lighter quarks the situation is more involved as we have to take into account the full potential and in this case no solution is known and one has to use numerical computation. But solving Dirac equation on a computer should be surely easier than treating full QCD.

Ground state of toponium


Following the series of posts I started after the beautiful result of BABAR collaboration, now I try to get a prevision for a new resonance, i.e. the ground state of \bar t t quarkonium that is known in literature as toponium. This resonance has a large mass with respect to the others due to t quark being about 37 times more massive than b quark. In this case we have a theoretical reference by Yuri Goncharov (see here) published in Nuclear Physics A (see here). Goncharov assumes a mass for the top quark of 173.25 GeV and gets \alpha_s(m_t)\approx 0.12. He has a toponium ground state mass of 347.4 GeV. How does our formula compare with these values?

Let us give again this formula as


being \sqrt{\sigma}=0.44 GeV. We obtain

m_{\eta_t}=345.9 GeV

that is absolutely good being the error of about 0.4% compared to Goncharov’s paper! Now, using the value of PDG m_t=172.5 GeV we get our final result

m_{\eta_t}=344.4 GeV.

This is the next quarkonium to be seen. Alhtough we can theoretically do this computation, we want just to point out that no toponium could be ever observed due to the large mass and width of the t quark (see here for a computation).

Ground state of charmonium


After the satisfactory derivation of the bottomonium ground state mass (see here) we would like to apply similar concepts to charmonium. Before we go on I would like to mention here the beautiful paper by Nora Brambilla and a lot of other contributors that any serious researcher in the field of heavy quark physics should read (see here). This paper has been published as a yellow report by CERN. What we want to prove here is that the knowledge of the gluon propagator can give a nice understanding of the ground state of quarkonia. Anyhow, for charmonium we could not be that lucky as relativistic effects are more important here than for bottomonium. Besides, if we would like to expand to higher order in r the quark potential we would be no more able to treat the Schroedinger equation unless we treat these terms as a perturbation but this approach is not successful giving at best slowing convergence of the series for bottomonium and an useless result for charmonium.

PDG gives us the data for the ground state of charmonium \eta_c(1S):

m_{\eta_c}=2979.8\pm 1.2 MeV

m_c=1.25\pm 0.09 GeV (\bar{MS} scheme)


and then, our computation gives

m_{\eta_c}=2m_c-\frac{1}{4}\alpha_s^2m_c+0.876\alpha_s\sqrt{\sigma}\approx 2602.8 MeV

that has an error of about 13%. With a quark mass of 1.44 GeV we would get a perfect agreement with \eta_c(1S) mass that makes this computation quite striking together with the analogous computations for the ground state of the bottomonium.

As said at the start, heavy quarkonia are a well studied matter and whoever interested to deepen the argument should read the yellow report by Brambilla and others.

Update:I would like to point out the paper by Stephan Narison (see here and here) that obtains the pole masses of c and b quarks being these the ones I use to obtain the right ground state of charmonium and bottomonium. Striking indeed!


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