Mapping the electromagnetic fields of heavy-ion collisions with the Breit-Wheeler process
Brookhaven National Laboratory, 11973-5000, Upton, NY, USA
2 Center for Frontiers in Nuclear Science affiliate at Stony Brook University, 11794-38000, Stony Brook, NY, USA
3 University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China
Accepted: 29 September 2021
Published online: 29 October 2021
Ultra-relativistic heavy-ion collisions are expected to produce the strongest electromagnetic fields in the known Universe. These highly-Lorentz contracted fields can manifest themselves as linearly polarized quasi-real photons that can interact via the Breit-Wheeler process to produce lepton anti-lepton pairs. The energy and momentum distribution of the produced dileptons carry information about the strength and spatial distribution of the colliding fields. Recently it has been demonstrated that photons from these fields can interact even in heavy-ion collisions with hadronic overlap, providing a purely electromagnetic probe of the produced medium. In this review we discuss the recent theoretical progress and experimental advances for mapping the ultra-strong electromagnetic fields produced in heavy-ion collisions via measurement of the Breit-Wheeler process.
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021