Geometry of Vector Bundle Extensions and Applications to a Generalised Theta Divisor

George H. Hitching


Let $E$ and $F$ be vector bundles over a complex projective smooth curve $X$, and suppose that $0 \to E \to W \to F \to 0$ is a nontrivial extension. Let $G \subseteq F$ be a subbundle and $D$ an effective divisor on $X$. We give a criterion for the subsheaf $G(-D) \subset F$ to lift to $W$, in terms of the geometry of a scroll in the extension space ${\mathbf{P}} H^{1}(X, \mathrm{Hom}(F, E))$. We use this criterion to describe the tangent cone to the generalised theta divisor on the moduli space of semistable bundles of rank $r$ and slope $g-1$ over $X$, at a stable point. This gives a generalisation of a case of the Riemann-Kempf singularity theorem for line bundles over $X$. In the same vein, we generalise the geometric Riemann-Roch theorem to vector bundles of slope $g-1$ and arbitrary rank.

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ISSN 0025-5521 (print) ISSN 1903-1807 (online)

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