Topological Properties of the QCD Vacuum at T=0 and T ~ T_c


We study on the lattice the topology of SU(2) and SU(3) Yang-Mills theories at zero temperature and of QCD at temperatures around the phase transition. To smooth out dislocations and the UV noise we cool the configurations with an action which has scale invariant instanton solutions for instanton size above about 2.3 lattice spacings. The corresponding "improved" topological charge stabilizes at an integer value after few cooling sweeps. At zero temperature the susceptibility calculated from this charge (about (195MeV)^4 for SU(2) and (185 MeV)^4 for SU(3)) agrees very well with the phenomenological expectation. At the minimal amount of cooling necessary to resolve the structure in terms of instantons and anti-instantons we observe a dense ensemble where the total number of peaks is by a factor 5-10 larger than the net charge. The average size observed for these peaks at zero temperature is about 0.4-0.45 fm for SU(2) and 0.5-0.6 fm for SU(3). The size distribution changes very little with further cooling, although in this process up to 90% of the peaks disappear by pair annihilation. For QCD we observe below T_c a reduction of the topological susceptibility as an effect of the dynamical fermions. Nevertheless also here the instantons form a dense ensemble with general characteristics similar to those of the quenched theory. A further drop in the susceptibility above T_c is also in rough agreement with what has been observed for pure SU(3). We see no clear signal for dominant formation of instanton - anti-instanton molecules.Comment: Latex, 7 pages, 4 figures (one colour). Contribution to the 31st International Symposium Ahrenshoop on the Theory of Elementary Particles, Buckow, September 2-6, 199

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