07.12.2021 (Tuesday)

The twistor origin of hidden w-infinity symmetries in celestial gravity

Regular Seminar Lionel Mason (University of Oxford)

14:00 QMW
room MB 503 Maths

Recently in their celestial holography programme, Strominger and coworkers attempt to provide a holographic description of conventional 4d gravity. In their investigations, they uncovered a hidden w-infinity symmetry in their `celestial soft OPEs' for graviton scattering. This talk will explain the origin of this symmetry in terms of old ideas of Newman and Penrose based on light-cone cuts of null infinity and their description in terms of asymptotic twistors and certain sigma models in asymptotic twistor space. W_n symmetries were introduced by Zamolodchikov as higher spin symmetries in 2d conformal field theories. These were given a geometric interpretation for n=infinity as area-preserving diffeomorphisms of the plane. I will explain how the corresponding loop algebra becomes a hidden symmetry of self-dual gravity via Penrose's nonlinear graviton construction. The action of this symmetry on the tree-level S-matrix of full gravity beyond the self-dual sector will then be obtained from its action on a sigma model in the asymtotic twistor space of a general space-time. This talk is based on https://arxiv.org/abs/2110.06066 and https://arxiv.org/abs/2103.16984.