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The gravitino is the supersymmetric partner of the graviton, as predicted by theories combining general relativity and supersymmetry; i.e. supergravity theories. If it exists it is a fermion of spin 3/2 and therefore obeys Rarita-Schwinger equation.
Additional recommended knowledge
The gravitino field is conventionally written as ψμα with μ = 0,1,2,3 a four-vector index and α = 1,2 a spinor index. For μ = 0 one would get negative norm modes, as with every massless particle of spin 1 or higher. These modes are unphysical, and for consistency there must be a gauge symmetry which cancels these modes: where is a spinor function of spacetime. This gauge symmetry is a local supersymmetry transformation, and the resulting theory is supergravity.
Thus the gravitino is the fermion mediating supergravity interactions, just as the photon is mediating electromagnetism, and the graviton is presumably mediating gravitation. Whenever supersymmetry is broken in supergravity theories, it acquires a mass which is directly the supersymmetry breaking scale.
As a proposed solution to the fine tuning problem of the Standard Model, and in order to allow grand unification, the supersymmetry breaking scale needs to be pushed down to the TeV range. Therefore the gravitino mass needs to be of this order, much lower than Planck scale, which is the natural scale for gravity interactions. This difference in energy scales is known as the hierarchy problem.
Gravitino cosmological problem
One option is that the gravitino is stable. This would be the case if the gravitino is the lightest supersymmetric particle and R-parity is conserved (or nearly so). In this case the gravitino is a candidate for dark matter, as such gravitini will be created in the very early universe. However, one may calculate the density of gravitini and it turns out to be much higher than the observed dark matter density.
The other option is that the gravitino is unstable. Thus the gravitini mentioned above would decay and will not contribute to the observed dark matter density. However, since they decay only through gravitational interactions, their lifetime would be very long, of the order of in natural units, where m is their mass and Mpl is the Planck mass. For a mass of the order of TeV this would be 105 seconds, much later than the era of nucleosynthesis. At least one possible channel of decay must include either a photon, a charged lepton or a meson, each of which would be energetic enough to destroy a nucleus if it strikes one. One can show that enough such energetic particles will be created in the decay as to destroy almost all the nuclei created in the era of nucleosynthesis, in contrast with observations. In fact, in such a case the universe would have been made of hydrogen alone, and star formation would probably be impossible.
One possible solution to the cosmological gravitino problem is the split supersymmetry model, where the gravitino mass is much higher than the TeV scale, but other fermionic supersymmetric partners of standard model particles already appear at this scale.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Gravitino". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|