Measurement of e+e- Momentum and Angular Distributions from Linearly Polarized Photon Collisions

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66 Scopus citations


The Breit-Wheeler process which produces matter and antimatter from photon collisions is experimentally investigated through the observation of 6085 exclusive electron-positron pairs in ultraperipheral Au+Au collisions at sNN=200 GeV. The measurements reveal a large fourth-order angular modulation of cos4Δφ=(16.8±2.5)% and smooth invariant mass distribution absent of vector mesons (φ, ω, and ρ) at the experimental limit of ≤0.2% of the observed yields.

Original languageEnglish
Article number052302
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 30 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the RHIC Operations Group and RCF at BNL, the NERSC Center at LBNL, and the Open Science Grid consortium for providing resources and support. This work was supported in part by the Office of Nuclear Physics within the U.S. DOE Office of Science, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, National Natural Science Foundation of China, Chinese Academy of Science, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China and the Chinese Ministry of Education, the National Research Foundation of Korea, Czech Science Foundation and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, Hungarian National Research, Development and Innovation Office, New National Excellency Programme of the Hungarian Ministry of Human Capacities, Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India, the National Science Centre of Poland, the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia, RosAtom of Russia and German Bundesministerium fur Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung, and Technologie (BMBF) and the Helmholtz Association.

Publisher Copyright:
©=38.1±0.9 MeV and displays a significant centrality dependence. These features are consistent with QED calculations for the collision of linearly polarized photons quantized from the extremely strong electromagnetic fields generated by the highly charged Au nuclei at ultrarelativistic speed. The experimental results have implications for vacuum birefringence and for mapping the magnetic field which is important for emergent QCD phenomena.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (all)


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