*Preprint*

**Inserted:** 11 aug 2015

**Last Updated:** 11 aug 2015

**Year:** 2015

**Abstract:**

Critical points of approximations of the Dirichlet energy \`{a} la Sacks-Uhlenbeck are known to converge to harmonic maps in a suitable sense. However, we show that not every harmonic map can be approximated by critical points of such perturbed energies. Indeed, we prove that constant maps and the rotations of $S^2$ are the only critical points of $\E_{\alpha}$ for maps from $S^2$ to $S^2$ whose $\alpha$-energy lies below some threshold. In particular, nontrivial dilations (which are harmonic) cannot arise as strong limits of $\alpha$-harmonic maps.

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