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Anomalies of generalized symmetries from solitonic defects

Lakshya Bhardwaj, Mathew Bullimore, Andrea E. V. Ferrari, Sakura Schäfer-Nameki

SciPost Phys. 16, 087 (2024) · published 26 March 2024


We propose the general idea that 't Hooft anomalies of generalized global symmetries can be understood in terms of the properties of solitonic defects, which generically are non-topological defects. The defining property of such defects is that they act as sources for background fields of generalized symmetries. 't Hooft anomalies arise when solitonic defects are charged under these generalized symmetries. We illustrate this idea for several kinds of anomalies in various spacetime dimensions. A systematic exploration is performed in 3d for 0-form, 1-form, and 2-group symmetries, whose 't Hooft anomalies are related to two special types of solitonic defects, namely vortex line defects and monopole operators. This analysis is supplemented with detailed computations of such anomalies in a large class of 3d gauge theories. Central to this computation is the determination of the gauge and 0-form charges of a variety of monopole operators: these involve standard gauge monopole operators, but also fractional gauge monopole operators, as well as monopole operators for 0-form symmetries. The charges of these monopole operators mainly receive contributions from Chern-Simons terms and fermions in the matter content. Along the way, we interpret the vanishing of the global gauge and ABJ anomalies, which are anomalies not captured by local anomaly polynomials, as the requirement that gauge monopole operators and mixed monopole operators for 0-form and gauge symmetries have non-fractional integer charges.

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