Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

It is known that the splitting field of $x^p-a$ over $\mathbb{Q}$ has no $p^2$ roots of unity. We can assume $a\in \mathbb{Q}$ is not a pth power in $\mathbb{Q}$. I came up with the following proof of this statement, which I believe is correct:

The splitting field of $x^p-a$ over $\mathbb{Q}$ is $\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_p, a^{1/p})$. If $\zeta_{p^2} \in \mathbb{Q}(\zeta_p, a^{1/p})$, then by degree considerations $\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_p, a^{1/p}) = \mathbb{Q}(\zeta_{p^2})$. Then $\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_{p^2})/\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_{p})$ and $\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_{p}, a^{1/p})/\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_{p})$ are equal field extensions and so by Kummer theory, exists $\alpha \in \mathbb{Q}(\zeta_{p})$ and $k \in \mathbb{Z}, (k,p)=1,$ such that $a^{1/p} = \zeta_{p^2}^k \alpha^p$. That is, $x^p- \frac{a}{\zeta_p^k}$ has a root $\alpha$ in $\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_{p})$. Now we consider the norm of $\alpha$ in the extension $\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_p)/\mathbb{Q}$: $N(\alpha)^{p^2} = N(\alpha^{p^2})= N(a^p) = a^{p(p-1)}$ since $|\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_p):\mathbb{Q}| = p-1$. Then $N(\alpha) = a^{(p-1)/p} \in \mathbb{Q}$ and so $a^{1/p} \in \mathbb{Q}$, which is a contradiction.

Does someone know of a simpler proof of this? My proof seems too complicated. In particular, is there a proof that avoids Kummer theory? Ideally, I would like a proof that uses only norms...

Thank you.

share|cite|improve this question
The splitting field of $x^2-(-1)$ has roots of unity of order $2^2$. – Gerry Myerson Mar 8 '13 at 4:39
I guess I mean for $p\ne 2$ since the 2nd roots of unity are rationals... – sam Mar 8 '13 at 4:54
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Hint: For $p>2$, $\text{Gal}(\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_p,a^{\frac{1}{p}})/\mathbb{Q})$ is not abelian. The easy way to see this is note that $\mathbb{Q}(a^{\frac{1}{p}})/\mathbb{Q}$ isn't Galois (consider it' automorphism group).

share|cite|improve this answer
Thank you! My mistake was thinking that $Gal(\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_p,a^{1/p}))$ is cyclic and that $Gal(\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_p,a^{1/p}))$ and $Gal(\mathbb{Q}(\zeta_{p^2})$ are isomorphic.. – sam Mar 8 '13 at 5:32
@sam Yeah, that's an easy mistake to make. One is tempted to use the fact that $\def\Q{\mathbb{Q}}$ $\Q(\zeta_p)\cap\Q(a^{\frac{1}{p}})=\Q$, to try and conclude that $\text{Gal}(\Q(\zeta_p,a^{\frac{1}{p}})/\Q)=\text{Gal}(\Q(\zeta_p),\Q)\times \text{Gal}(\Q(a^{\frac{1}{p}})/\Q)$. But, of course this only works if both the extensions $\Q(\zeta_p)/\Q$ and $\Q(a^{\frac{1}{p}})/\Q$ are Galois! – Alex Youcis Mar 8 '13 at 5:34

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.