We consider global quantum quenches, a protocol when a continuous field theoretic system in the ground state is driven by a homogeneous time-dependent external interaction. When the typical inverse time scale of the interaction is much larger than all relevant scales except for the UV-cutoff the system’s response exhibits universal scaling behavior. We provide both qualitative and quantitative explanations of this universality and argue that physics of the response during and shortly after the quench is governed by the conformal perturbation theory around the UV fixed point. We proceed to calculate the response of one and two-point correlation functions confirming and generalizing universal scalings found previously. Finally, we discuss late time behavior after the quench and argue that all local quantities will equilibrate to their thermal values specified by an excess energy acquired by the system during the quench.

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Published in Journal of High Energy Physics, v. 2018, issue 1, article 112, p. 1-30.

© The Author(s) 2018

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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Article funded by SCOAP3.

This work is supported by the BSF grant 2016186. The research of MS is supported by the "Quantum Universe" I-CORE program of the Israel Planning and Budgeting Committee (grant 1937/12) and partially by a grant from the Simons Foundation. The work was done in part at Aspen Center for Physics, which is supported by National Science Foundation grant PHY-1607761.