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Vacuum fluctuations of quantum fields are altered in the presence of a strong gravitational background, with important physical consequences. We argue that a nontrivial spacetime geometry can act as an optically active medium for quantum electromagnetic radiation, in such a way that the state of polarization of radiation changes in time, even in the absence of electromagnetic sources. This is a quantum effect, and is a consequence of an anomaly related to the classical invariance under electric-magnetic duality rotations in Maxwell theory.

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International Journal of Modern Physics D