Opacity from Loops in AdS
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We investigate how quantum dynamics affects the propagation of a scalar field in Lorentzian AdS. We work in momentum space, in which the propagator admits two spectral representations (denoted “conformal” and “momentum”) in addition to a closed-form one, and all have a simple split structure. Focusing on scalar bubbles, we compute the imaginary part of the self-energy ImΠ in the three representations, which involves the evaluation of seemingly very different objects. We explicitly prove their equivalence in any dimension, and derive some elementary and asymptotic properties of ImΠ. Using a WKB-like approach in the timelike region, we evaluate the propagator dressed with the imaginary part of the self-energy. We find that the dressing from loops exponentially dampens the propagator when one of the endpoints is in the IR region, rendering this region opaque to propagation. This suppression may have implications for field-theoretical model-building in AdS. We argue that in the effective theory (EFT) paradigm, opacity of the IR region induced by higher dimensional operators censors the region of EFT breakdown. This confirms earlier expectations from the literature. Specializing to AdS5, we determine a universal contribution to opacity from gravity.