We study curvature functionals for immersed 2-spheres in a compact, three-dimensional Riemannian manifold $M$. Under the assumption that the sectional curvature $K^M$ is strictly positive, we prove the existence of a smooth immersion $f:{\mathbb{S}}^2 \rightarrow M$ minimizing the $L^2$ integral of the second fundamental form. Assuming instead that $K^M \leq 2 $ and that there is some point $\bar{x}\in M$ with scalar curvature $R^M(\bar{x})>6$, we obtain a smooth minimizer $f:{\mathbb{S}}^2 \rightarrow M$ for the functional $\int \frac{1}{4}|H|^2+1$, where $H$ is the mean curvature.

1 aKuwert, Ernst1 aMondino, Andrea1 aSchygulla, Johannes uhttps://doi.org/10.1007/s00208-013-1005-303135nas a2200205 4500008004100000022001400041245009400055210006900149300001400218490000700232520242200239653004902661653002302710653002902733653002802762653002402790100002002814700002402834856007102858 2014 eng d a0294-144900aExistence of immersed spheres minimizing curvature functionals in non-compact 3-manifolds0 aExistence of immersed spheres minimizing curvature functionals i a707 - 7240 v313 aWe study curvature functionals for immersed 2-spheres in non-compact, three-dimensional Riemannian manifold $(M,h)$ without boundary. First, under the assumption that $(M,h)$ is the euclidean 3-space endowed with a semi-perturbed metric with perturbation small in $C^1$ norm and of compact support, we prove that if there is some point $\bar{x}\in M$ with scalar curvature $R^M(\bar{x})>0$ then there exists a smooth embedding $ f:\mathbb{S}^2 \hookrightarrow M$ minimizing the Willmore functional $\frac{1}{4}\int |H|^2$, where $H$ is the mean curvature. Second, assuming that $(M,h)$ is of bounded geometry (i.e. bounded sectional curvature and strictly positive injectivity radius) and asymptotically euclidean or hyperbolic we prove that if there is some point $\bar{x}\in M$ with scalar curvature $R^M(\bar{x})>6$ then there exists a smooth immersion $f:\mathbb{S}^2\hookrightarrow M$ minimizing the functional $\int (\frac{1}{2}|A|^2+1)$, where $A$ is the second fundamental form. Finally, adding the bound $K^M \leq 2$ to the last assumptions, we obtain a smooth minimizer $f:\mathbb{S}^2 \hookrightarrow M$ for the functional $\int \frac{1}{4}(|H|^2+1)$. The assumptions of the last two theorems are satisfied in a large class of 3-manifolds arising as spacelike timeslices solutions of the Einstein vacuum equation in case of null or negative cosmological constant.

10aDirect methods in the calculus of variations10aGeneral Relativity10aGeometric measure theory10asecond fundamental form10aWillmore functional1 aMondino, Andrea1 aSchygulla, Johannes uhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0294144913000851