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Accurate impact parameter determination in a heavy-ion collision is crucial for almost all further analysis. We investigate the capabilities of an artificial neural network in that respect. First results show that the neural network is capable of improving the accuracy of the impact parameter determination based on observables such as the flow angle, the average directed inplane transverse momentum and the difference between transverse and longitudinal momenta. However, further investigations are necessary to discover the full potential of the neural network approach.

We compute the vacuum polarization correction to the binding energy of nuclear matter in the Walecka model using a nonperturbative approach. We first study such a contribution as arising from a ground-state structure with baryon-antibaryon condensates. This yields the same results as obtained through the relativistic Hartree approximation of summing tadpole diagrams for the baryon propagator. Such a vacuum is then generalized to include quantum effects from meson fields through scalar-meson condensates which amounts to summing over a class of multiloop diagrams. The method is applied to study properties of nuclear matter and leads to a softer equation of state giving a lower value of the incompressibility than would be reached without quantum effects. The density-dependent effective sigma mass is also calculated including such vacuum polarization effects.

The electron-positron pairs observed in heavy-ion collisions at Gesellschaft für Schwerionen-forschung Darmstadt mbH have been interpreted as the decay products of yet unknown particles with masses around 1.8 MeV. The negative results of resonant Bhabha scattering experiments, however, do not support such an interpretation. Therefore we focus on a more complex decay scenario, where the e+e- lines result from a two-collision process. We discuss the induced decay of a metastable 1++ state into e+e- pairs. For most realizations of a 1++ state such a decay in leading order can only take place in the Coulomb field of a target atom. This fact has the attractive consequence that for such a state the Bhabha bounds are no longer valid. However, the absolute value of the e+e- production cross section turns out to be unacceptably small.

We calculate the asymptotic high-energy amplitude for electrons scattering at one ion, as well as at two colliding ions, by means of perturbation theory. We show that the interaction with one ion eikonalizes and that the interaction with two ions causally decouples. We are able to put previous results on perturbative grounds and propose further applications for the obtained rules for interactions on the light cone. We discuss the implications of the eikonal amplitude on the pair production probability in ultrarelativistic peripheral heavy-ion collisions. In this context the Weizsäcker-Williams method is shown to be exact in the ultrarelativistic limit, irrespective of the produced particles’ mass. A new equivalent single-photon distribution is derived, which correctly accounts for Coulomb distortions. The impact on single-photon induced processes is discussed.

Collisions of very heavy ions at energies close to the Coulomb barrier are discussed as a unique tool to study the behavior of the electron-positron field in the presence of strong external electromagnetic fields. To calculate the excitation processes induced by the collision dynamics, a semiclassical model is employed and adapted to describe the field-theoretical many-particle system. An expansion in the adiabatic molecular basis is chosen. Energies and matrix elements are calculated using the monopole approximation. In a supercritical (Z1+Z2≳173) quasiatomic system the 1s level joins the antiparticle continuum and becomes a resonance, rendering the neutral vacuum state unstable. Several methods of treating the corresponding time-dependent problem are discussed. A projection-operator technique is introduced for a fully dynamical treatment of the resonance. Positron excitation rates in s1/2 and p1/2 states are obtained by numerical solution of the coupled-channel equations and are compared with results from first- plus second-order perturbation theory. Calculations are performed for subcritical and supercritical collisions of Pb-Pb, Pb-U, U-U, and U-Cf. Strong relativistic deformations of the wave functions and the growing contributions from inner-shell bound states lead to a very steep Z dependence of positron production. The results are compared with available data from experiments done at GSI. Correlations between electrons and positrons are briefly discussed.

The theory of direct electron-positron pair production in the collision of heavy ions is formulated in the framework of the quasimolecular model. The pair production process acquires a collective nature for (Z1+Z2)α>1 and can be understood as the shakeoff of the strong vacuum polarization cloud formed in the quasimolecule. The total cross section is, e.g., 76 μb for Pb + Pb at Coulomb barrier energies.

Phenomenological consequences of a hypothetical light neutral particle in heavy ion collisions
(1986)

We discuss the possibility that the line structure observed in the spectrum of the positrons produced in heavy ion collisions is due to the decay of a new neutral elementary particle. We argue that this can be ruled out unless one is willing to accept fine tuning of parameters, or to assume the dominance of nonlinear effects.

Positron creation in crossed-beam collisions of high-energy, fully stripped heavy ions is investigated within the coupled-channel formalism. In comparison with fixed-target collisions of highly stripped heavy-ion projectiles positron production probabilities are enhanced by more than one order of magnitude. The increase results from the possibility to excite electrons from the negative energy continuum into all bound states. The positron spectrum is shifted towards higher energies because of the absence of electron screening. Rutherford scattering as well as nuclear collisions with time delay are investigated. We also discuss the filling of empty bound states by electrons from pair-production processes.

Excitations of the atomic shell in heavy-ion collisions are influenced by the presence of a nuclear reaction. In the present Rapid Communication we point out the equivalence between a semiclassical description based on the nuclear autocorrelation function with an earlier model which employs a distribution of reaction times f(T). For the example of U+U collisions, results of coupled-channel calculations for positron creation and K-hole excitations are discussed for two schematic reaction models.