Infrared degrees of freedom of Yang-Mills theory in the Schrodinger representation
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We set up a new calculational framework for the Yang-Mills vacuum transition amplitude in the Schrodinger representation. After integrating out hard-mode contributions perturbatively and performing a gauge-invariant gradient expansion of the ensuing soft-mode action, a manageable saddle-point expansion for the vacuum overlap can be formulated. In combination with the squeezed approximation to the vacuum wave functional this allows for an essentially analytical treatment of physical amplitudes. Moreover, it leads to the identification of dominant and gauge-invariant classes of gauge field orbits which play the role of gluonic infrared (IR) degrees of freedom. The latter emerge as a diverse set of saddle-point solutions and are represented by unitary matrix fields. We discuss their scale stability, the associated virial theorem and other general properties including topological quantum numbers and action bounds. We then find important saddle-point solutions (most of them solitons) explicitly and examine their physical impact. While some are related to tunneling solutions of the classical Yang-Mills equation, i.e. to instantons and merons, others appear to play unprecedented roles. A remarkable new class of IR degrees of freedom consists of Faddeev-Niemi type link and knot solutions, potentially related to glueballs.