In

theoretical physicsTheoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena...

, a

**gravitational anomaly** is an example of a

gauge anomalyIn theoretical physics, a gauge anomaly is an example of an anomaly: it is an effect of quantum mechanics—usually a one-loop diagram—that invalidates the gauge symmetry of a quantum field theory; i.e...

: it is an effect of

quantum mechanicsQuantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

–usually a one-loop diagram—that invalidates the

general covarianceIn theoretical physics, general covariance is the invariance of the form of physical laws under arbitrary differentiable coordinate transformations...

of a theory of

general relativityGeneral relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

combined with some other fields. The adjective "gravitational" is derived from the symmetry of a gravitational theory, namely from general covariance. It is also known as

*diffeomorphism anomaly*, since

general covarianceIn theoretical physics, general covariance is the invariance of the form of physical laws under arbitrary differentiable coordinate transformations...

is symmetry under coordinate reparametrization; i.e.

diffeomorphismIn mathematics, a diffeomorphism is an isomorphism in the category of smooth manifolds. It is an invertible function that maps one differentiable manifold to another, such that both the function and its inverse are smooth.- Definition :...

.

General covariance is the basis of

general relativityGeneral relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

, the current theory of

gravitationGravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

. Moreover, it is necessary for the consistency of any theory of

quantum gravityQuantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...

, since it is required in order to cancel unphysical degrees of freedom with a negative norm, namely

gravitonIn physics, the graviton is a hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitation in the framework of quantum field theory. If it exists, the graviton must be massless and must have a spin of 2...

s polarized along the time direction. Therefore all gravitational anomalies must cancel out.

The anomaly usually appears as a

Feynman diagramFeynman diagrams are a pictorial representation scheme for the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles, first developed by the Nobel Prize-winning American physicist Richard Feynman, and first introduced in 1948...

with a

chiralA chiral phenomenon is one that is not identical to its mirror image . The spin of a particle may be used to define a handedness for that particle. A symmetry transformation between the two is called parity...

fermionIn particle physics, a fermion is any particle which obeys the Fermi–Dirac statistics . Fermions contrast with bosons which obey Bose–Einstein statistics....

running in the loop (a polygon) with

*n* external

gravitonIn physics, the graviton is a hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitation in the framework of quantum field theory. If it exists, the graviton must be massless and must have a spin of 2...

s attached to the loop where

where

is the

spacetimeIn physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space as being three-dimensional and time playing the role of a fourth dimension that is of a different sort from the spatial dimensions...

dimension. Anomalies occur only in even spacetime dimensions. However, anomalies can occur in the case of an odd dimensional spacetime manifold with boundary.

## See also

- For a different concept in geodesy
Geodesy , also named geodetics, a branch of earth sciences, is the scientific discipline that deals with the measurement and representation of the Earth, including its gravitational field, in a three-dimensional time-varying space. Geodesists also study geodynamical phenomena such as crustal...

and geophysicsGeophysics is the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to the geological applications: Earth's shape; its gravitational and magnetic fields; its internal structure and...

, dealing with differences between observed values of gravity and predicted values for that location, see gravity anomalyA gravity anomaly is the difference between the observed acceleration of Earth's gravity and a value predicted from a model.-Geodesy and geophysics:...

.
- mixed anomaly
In theoretical physics, a mixed anomaly is an example of an anomaly: it is an effect of quantum mechanics — usually a one-loop diagram — that implies that the classically valid general covariance and gauge symmetry of a theory of general relativity combined with gauge fields and fermionic fields...

- Green-Schwarz mechanism
The Green–Schwarz mechanism is the main discovery that started the first superstring revolution in superstring theory.-Discovery:In 1984, Michael Green and John H...