Vector Meson Production in Ultra-Peripheral Collisions

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Physics and Astronomy

Date of Award

Spring 2016


Charged ions moving at relativistic speeds generate strong electromagnetic fields (E/M) that, at regions outside the source (important when the E/M sources are nuclei), behave like the fields from a beam of real photons. These equivalent, or virtual photons, can induce an excitation in another nucleus as the source flies by. Existing theories attempt to explain such processes and predict their outcome. One way to study such Ultra-Peripheral Collisions (UPCs) is to simulate them using a Monte-Carlo Multi-Collisional (MCMC) model based on nucleon degrees of freedom. The CRISP (acronym for Collaboration Rio-Illhéus-São Paulo) model is one such theory. It is basically at the stage of a well-documented software package that implements the MCMC. This model has successfully predicted observables, such as neutron multiplicity, from central collisions and also in UPCs with relativistic heavy ions. However, the photoproduction of vector mesons has only recently been added to the CRISP model. A completely different approach to study UPCs focuses on the role of Parton Distribution Functions (PDFs) in the excitation process. Here, instead of nucleons, the degrees of freedom are quarks and gluons (generically known as partons). Several distinct PDFs exist in the literature and are continually being updated. This work used experimental results released from the ALICE collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) facility located at the international particle physics laboratory CERN in Switzerland. Our outputs from the CRISP model, and from the sub-nucleon degrees of freedom model, were photonuclear cross sections for vector meson production. A comparison of our results with the experimental data allowed us to constrain different PDFs, as well as the effect of multiple collisions on the production of mesons with nucleons in the final channel. Upon completion of the calculations, it was seen that the hadronic models could accurately predict the production of the J/psi meson, but not the rho. It was also seen that the use of different parton distribution functions led to significantly different results in both the rapidity distributions for vector meson production as well as the total cross sections. Due to the wildly different results, it was concluded that more work is needed before either method is suitable to accurately predict experimental observables.


Carlos Bertulani

Subject Categories

Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Physics