Jacques Bros, Detlev Buchholz
September 15, 2001
It is shown that the timelike asymptotic properties of thermal correlation functions in relativistic quantum field theory can consistently be described in terms of free fields carrying some stochastic degree of freedom which couples to the thermal background. These ``asymptotic thermal fields'' have specific algebraic properties (commutation relations) and their dynamics can be expressed in terms of asymptotic field equations. The formalism is applied to interacting theories where it yields concrete non-perturbative results for the asymptotic thermal propagators. The results are consistent with the expected features of dissipative propagation of the constitutents of thermal states, outlined in previous work, and they shed new light on the non-perturbative effects of thermal backgrounds.