Revisiting non-relativistic limits

  • Kristan Jensen
  • Andreas Karch
Open Access
Regular Article - Theoretical Physics


We show that the full spurionic symmetry of Galilean-invariant field theories can be deduced when those theories are the limits of relativistic parents. Under the limit, the non-relativistic daughter couples to Newton-Cartan geometry together with all of the symmetries advocated in previous work, including the recently revived Milne boosts. Our limit is a covariant version of the usual one, where we start with a gapped relativistic theory with a conserved charge, turn on a chemical potential equal to the rest mass of the lightest charged state, and then zoom in to the low energy sector. This procedure gives a simple physical interpretation for the Milne boosts. Our methods even apply when there is a magnetic moment, which is known to modify the non-relativistic symmetry transformations. We focus on two examples. Free scalars are used to demonstrate the basic procedure, whereas hydrodynamics is used in order to exhibit the power of this approach in a fully dynamical setting, correcting several inaccuracies in the existing literature.


Space-Time Symmetries Global Symmetries AdS-CFT Correspondence 


Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical PhysicsSUNY Stony BrookStony BrookUnited States
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUnited States

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