Fermion energies in the background of a cosmic string
We provide a thorough exposition, including technical and numerical details, of previously published results on the quantum stabilization of cosmic strings. Stabilization occurs through the coupling to a heavy fermion doublet in a reduced version of the standard model. We combine the vacuum polarization energy of fermion zero-point fluctuations and the binding energy of occupied energy levels, which are of the same order in a semiclassical expansion. Populating these bound states assigns a charge to the string. We show that strings carrying fermion charge become stable if the electroweak bosons are coupled to a fermion that is less than twice as heavy as the top quark. The vacuum remains stable in our model, because neutral strings are not energetically favored. These findings suggests that extraordinarily large fermion masses or unrealistic couplings are not required to bind a cosmic string in the standard model. © 2011 American Physical Society.