We study the physics of open strings in bosonic and type-II string theories in the presence of unstable D-branes. When the potential energy of the open string tachyon is at its minimum, Sen has argued that only closed strings remain in the perturbative spectrum. We explore the scenario of Yi and of Bergman, Hori, and Yi, who argue that the open string degrees of freedom are strongly coupled and disappear through confinement. We discuss arguments using open string field theory and world sheet boundary renormalization group flows, which seem to indicate otherwise. We then describe a solitonic excitation of the open string tachyon and gauge field with the charge and tension of a fundamental closed string. This requires a double scaling limit where the tachyon is taken to its minimal value and the electric field is taken to its maximum value. The resulting flux tube has an unconstrained spatial profile; and for large fundamental string charge it appears to have light, weakly coupled open strings existing in the core. We argue that the flux tube acquires a size of order a' through sigma model and string coupling effects, and that confinement effects make the light degrees of freedom heavy and strongly interacting.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)