Degree theory for 4-dimensional asymptotically conical gradient expanding solitons
Richard H. Bamler, Eric Chen
Mathematics, Differential Geometry, Differential Geometry (math.DG), Analysis of PDEs (math.AP)
We develop a new degree theory for 4-dimensional, asymptotically conical gradient expanding solitons. Our theory implies the existence of gradient expanding solitons that are asymptotic to any given cone over $S^3$ with non-negative scalar curvature. We also obtain a similar existence result for cones whose link is diffeomorphic to $S^3/\Gamma$ if we allow the expanding soliton to have orbifold singularities. Our theory reveals the existence of a new topological invariant, called the expander degree, applicable to a particular class of compact, smooth 4-orbifolds with boundary. This invariant is roughly equal to a signed count of all possible gradient expanding solitons that can be defined on the interior of the orbifold and are asymptotic to any fixed cone metric with non-negative scalar curvature. If the expander degree of an orbifold is non-zero, then gradient expanding solitons exist for any such cone metric. We show that the expander degree of the 4-disk $D^4$ and any orbifold of the form $D^4/\Gamma$ equals 1. Additionally, we demonstrate that the expander degree of certain orbifolds, including exotic 4-disks, vanishes. Our theory also sheds light on the relation between gradient and non-gradient expanding solitons with respect to their asymptotic model. More specifically, we show that among the set of asymptotically conical expanding solitons, the subset of those solitons that are gradient forms a union of connected components.