Defect CFT in the 6d (2,0) theory from M2 brane dynamics in AdS7 × S 4

Nadav Drukker, Simone Giombi, Arkady A. Tseytlin, Xinan Zhou

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33 Scopus citations


Surface operators in the 6d (2,0) theory at large N have a holographic description in terms of M2 branes probing the AdS7×S4 M-theory background. The most symmetric, 1/2-BPS, operator is defined over a planar or spherical surface, and it preserves a 2d superconformal group. This includes, in particular, an SO(2, 2) subgroup of d conformal transformations, so that the surface operator may be viewed as a conformal defect in the 6d theory. The dual M2 brane has an AdS3 induced geometry, reflecting the 2d conformal symmetry. Here we use the holographic description to extract the defect CFT data associated to the surface operator. The spectrum of transverse fluctuations of the M2 brane is found to be in one-to-one correspondence with a protected multiplet of operator insertions on the surface, which includes the displacement operator. We compute the one-loop determinants of fluctuations of the M2 brane, and extract the conformal anomaly coefficient of the spherical surface to order N0. We also briefly discuss the RG flow from the non-supersymmetric to the 1/2-BPS defect operator, and its consistency with a “b-theorem” for the defect CFT. Starting with the M2 brane action, we then use AdS3 Witten diagrams to compute the 4-point functions of the elementary bosonic insertions on the surface operator, and extract some of the defect CFT data from the OPE. The 4-point function is shown to satisfy superconformal Ward identities, and we discuss a related sub- sector of “twisted” scalar insertions, whose correlation functions are constrained by the residual superconformal symmetry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


  • AdS-CFT Correspondence
  • Anomalies in Field and String Theories
  • Conformal Field Theory


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