Fivebrane structures

Hisham Sati, Urs Schreiber, Jim Stasheff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the cohomological physics of fivebranes in type II and heterotic string theory. We give an interpretation of the one-loop term in type IIA, which involves the first and second Pontrjagin classes of spacetime, in terms of obstructions to having bundles with certain structure groups. Using a generalization of the GreenSchwarz anomaly cancellation in heterotic string theory which demands the target space to have a String structure, we observe that the "magnetic dual" version of the anomaly cancellation condition can be read as a higher analog of String structure, which we call Fivebrane structure. This involves lifts of orthogonal and unitary structures through higher connected covers which are not just 3- but even 7-connected. We discuss the topological obstructions to the existence of Fivebrane structures. The dual version of the anomaly cancellation points to a relation of string and Fivebrane structures under electric-magnetic duality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1197-1240
Number of pages44
JournalReviews in Mathematical Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Anomaly
  • Fivebrane
  • Generalizations of fiber spaces and bundles
  • Obstruction theory
  • String theory
  • Superstring theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics


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