I am trying to get some insight into Deligne/Scholl construction of the motive of a modular form. First of all I would like to understand the case of weight two, especialy when there is complex multiplication. Unfortunately in his paper "Motives for modular forms" Scholl says

"We do not treat here the case k = 0, which corresponds to cusp forms of weight 2; the associated motives are then given by the Jacobians of modular curves, and are well understood"

Question 0: Could anyone explain this or give a readable reference?

More precisely, I am interested in the following question. If $E$ is an elliptic curve over a number field $K$, one can look at the Chow motive with rational coefficients $$ h^1(E) $$ cut off from the total motive $(E, \nabla, 0)$ by $\nabla$ minus the two projectors associated to some rational point (over an extension of $K$ if necessary). In general, this motives is indecomposable.

However, when $E$ has complex multiplication by a quadratic imaginary field $F=\mathbb{Q}(\sqrt{-d})$, one gets a decomposition of $h^1(E)_F$ into two rank motives with coefficients in $F$.

On the other hand, one can look to the weight two modular form $f$ attached to $E$ (modularity in the CM case, which is much easier!). Thanks to the construction quoted by Scholl one gets a rank two motive with coefficients in the field generated by the Fourier coefficients of $f$.

Question 1: (General elliptic curve) What is the relation between these two motives? One would like to say there are the same, but the coefficient field are different, aren't?

Question 2 (CM case): Does the geometric construction using Jacobians of modular forms also give the decomposition into two pieces of rank one? If so, how?

Thanks a lot for your help


The construction alluded to by Scholl is the Eichler-Shimura construction, and a readable account can be found e.g. in D. Rohrlich, Modular curves, Hecke correspondences, $L$-functions.

If $f$ is the newform of weight 2 associated to a CM elliptic curve $E/K$, then the abelian variety $A_f/\mathbf{Q}$ associated to $f$ by Eichler-Shimura is isogenous over $\overline{\mathbf{Q}}$ to a power of $E$. But some extra work is needed in order to get the minimal field of definition of this isogeny. I don't think it's always true that the isogeny is defined over $K$ -- you could imagine replacing $E$ by an elliptic curve which is isomorphic over $\overline{\mathbf{Q}}$, which preserves the CM condition. EDIT : One shoud also be careful with what is meant by the modular form associated to $E$. It is rather a Grössencharakter over $K$ which is associated to $E/K$. In order to get a classical modular form, I think one should further assume that $K$ is (at most) quadratic.

That being said, if $K'$ is a field of definition of the isogeny $A_f \sim E^n$, then the motive of $A_f$, which is just the restriction of scalars of the motive of $f$, is isomorphic to $h^1(E)^n$ over $K'$.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer, François! Do you know something about the second question, that is, how to see the two submotives of rank one in $A_f$? $\endgroup$ – cmotive Jun 6 '13 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ This is a good question -- on the Galois side, the Galois representations associated to $f$ and $A_f$ decompose into two rank 1 pieces after restricting to the absolute Galois group of the imaginary quadratic field $F$ by which $E$ has CM. These pieces are cut out by the endomorphisms of $E$ which are not defined over $\mathbf{Q}$, and we may wonder whether these endomorphisms are modular i.e. are induced by some Hecke correspondences on modular curves above $f$. I think this should be true at least in some cases, but I'm not sure and I hope an expert of the CM case can show up. $\endgroup$ – François Brunault Jun 6 '13 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ I once saw a result stating that the Hecke correspondences generate the whole endomorphism algebra of the Jacobian of a modular curve, so the answer should be yes, but I don't recall the reference. $\endgroup$ – François Brunault Jun 6 '13 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ So where is this CM expert? :) $\endgroup$ – cmotive Jun 8 '13 at 8:03

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