Carroll stories

Jan de Boer, Jelle Hartong, Niels A. Obers*, Watse Sybesma, Stefan Vandoren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study various aspects of the Carroll limit in which the speed of light is sent to zero. A large part of this paper is devoted to the quantization of Carroll field theories. We show that these exhibit infinite degeneracies in the spectrum and may suffer from non-normalizable ground states. As a consequence, partition functions of Carroll systems are ill-defined and do not lead to sensible thermodynamics. These seemingly pathological properties might actually be a virtue in the context of flat space holography. Better defined is the Carroll regime, in which we consider the leading order term in an expansion around vanishing speed of light without taking the strict Carroll limit. Such an expansion may lead to sensible notions of Carroll thermodynamics. An interesting example is a gas of massless particles with an imaginary chemical potential conjugate to the momentum. In the Carroll regime we show that the partition function of such a gas leads to an equation of state with w = −1. As a separate story, we study aspects of Carroll gravity and couplings to Carrollian energy-momentum tensors. We discuss many examples of solutions to Carroll gravity, including wormholes, Maxwell fields, solutions with a cosmological constant, and discuss the structure of geodesics in a Carroll geometry. The coupling of matter to Carroll gravity also allows us to derive energy-momentum tensors for hypothetical Carroll fluids from expanding relativistic fluids as well as directly from hydrostatic partition functions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

Other keywords

  • Black Holes
  • Field Theories in Lower Dimensions
  • Field Theory Hydrodynamics
  • Space-Time Symmetries


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