# Cross section, Flux, Luminosity, Scattering Rates

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1 Cross section, Flux, Luminosity, Scattering Rates Table of Contents Paul Avery (Andrey Korytov) Sep. 9, Introduction... 1 Cross section, flux and scattering Scattering length λ and λ ρ... 4 Cross section and scattering Cross section units: mb, µb, nb, etc Dependence of σ on energy and spin Luminosity and integrated luminosity Example 1: Neutrino-nucleon event rate Example : Detecting a new particle in the CMS experiment Basic cross section definitions Cross section formulas for some processes Introduction Scattering experiments, where particles in a beam interact with target particles and a detector measures the scattered particles and/or new particles produced in the interaction, have produced a vast amount of information which has uncovered how the fundamental forces work, made possible the discovery of hundreds of particles and the understanding of their properties, and enabled precise measurements of systems ranging in size from molecules (10 9 m) to a fraction of a proton radius (10 18 m). In recognition of the fact that new phenomena appear whenever particle energies and measurement sensitivities cross new thresholds, physicists have continually pushed the energy and intensity frontiers of particle accelerators and developed extremely accurate and sensitive detectors and data acquisition systems. This process has led from the Cockroft-Walton accelerator in the early 1930s to the colliding proton beams at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland. In this note we will learn about the concepts used in scattering experiments, including the most basic ones of cross section, flux and luminosity Cross section, flux and scattering Consider a typical fixed-target scattering experiment where a beam of particles strikes a fixed target. The following are the basic quantities involved in scattering experiments. 1

2 Cross section: Imagine a target slab of some material of thickness Δx [m], with an area A t and a number density of small target scatterers (e.g., nuclei) n t [m -3 ]. Each scatterer has a projected cross-sectional area, or cross section, σ [m ]. Flux: A beam of incoming pointlike particles has flux density j (#/m /sec) uniformly spread over an area A b [m ] with total flux J = ja b [#/sec]. The flux density can be written j = n b v b, where n b is the beam particle density [#/m 3 ] and v b [m/sec] is its velocity. In terms of these basic quantities the total beam flux is J = n b A b v b. Within the target material, the number of scatterers within this area is N t = n t A b Δx, where n t is their number density and Δx is the target thickness. Scattering: The beam particles are deflected only when they hit the target scatterers. The probability of scattering is the ratio of total target scatterer area within the beam to the overall area available for a beam particle. For a target thickness of dx the scattering probability dp is dp = N t σ / A b = ( n t A b dx)σ / A b = σ n t dx Thus the number of interacting beam particles in the target is Ndp and the change in the number of beam particles is dn = Ndp = Nσn t dx This equation can be rewritten dn / N = σn t dx, which we can integrate for a target of finite thickness x to find N(x), the surviving number of beam particles vs x: N ( x) = N 0 e σ nx N 0 e x/λ λ 1/ n t σ is called the scattering length for a given cross section. When σ is the total cross section, the scattering length λ is known as the nuclear collision length. If σ is the inelastic cross section (where beam particles can be absorbed and new ones created), λ is called the nuclear interaction length. Both quantities are tabulated by the PDG. 3 Scattering length λ and λ ρ The number of surviving beam particles is N ( x) = N 0 e x/λ, thus λ = 1 / n t σ is the average distance that a beam particle travels in the target before scattering. Nuclear tables typically show the quantity λ ρ = ρ / n t σ [g/cm ] (which they call λ, so be careful), where ρ is the density of the material. Since ρ = Am 0 n t, with A the atomic mass and m 0 the atomic mass unit (a carbon atom has a mass of exactly 1 mass units and m 0 = g ), we see that λ ρ = Am 0 /σ. Ex-

3 pressing the scattering length this way is useful because it varies very slowly with atomic mass A (the dependence on A is minimized because the total cross section increases A 3/4 ). For highenergy protons or neutrons traveling through matter, typical values of λ ρ are g/cm. Table 1 shows some values for the nuclear collision length for typical materials, taken from the Particle Data Group web page. Note the very slow dependence of λ ρ on A. Table 1: Scattering length of common materials Element A ρ (g/cm 3 ) λ (cm) λ ρ (g/cm ) H (liquid) Be C Air (N, O, CO ) Al Si Cl (liquid) Fe Cu W (Tungsten) Pb U Shielding concrete Standard rock When building radiation shielding, one prefers to use a substance with a small value of λ (tungsten) to reduce its actual thickness, but cost considerations normally force the adoption of cheaper materials like iron, lead or even concrete. 4 Cross section and scattering For a beam of total flux J [#/sec], the rate of particle scattering (#scattered/sec) is merely dj scat = Jdp = Jσ n t dx = jσ N t, where N t = n t A b dx is the number of scatterers in the area of the beam. Measuring the scattering rate thus provides an experimental way of determining the cross section σ: σ = dj scat J n t dx = dj scat jn t This formula permits us relate the experimentally measured cross section to theory. In the development of scattering theory in QM, N t = 1 (one scatterer) and j represents the flux of an incoming plane wave of a single particle. 4.1 Cross section units: mb, µb, nb, etc. The cross section is an area so it is measured in m ; however, physicists commonly employ much smaller units such as the barn (b), mb, µb, nb, pb, fb, etc., 1 barn being 10 8 m, a typical size of heavy element nuclei. The proton-proton cross section is ~ mb, depending on energy. 3

4 This corresponds to a proton radius of proton of ~ fm. At the LHC, cross sections for W and Z production are ~nb (10 37 m ) and rare processes have cross sections ~pb (10 40 m ) or even ~fb (10 43 m ). Note that the cross section merely defines an imaginary area in which the interaction takes place. The measured cross section can be much smaller than the actual geometric size of the scattering particles. For example, the neutrino-proton cross section for typical solar neutrinos of 1 MeV is around m, vastly smaller than the proton size. The cross section of a point-like electron scattering in the coulomb potential of another point-like electron is infinite since no matter how large the impact parameter is, there is always sufficient force between the two particles that will result in some scattering (very small for large impact parameters, but non-zero nevertheless). 4. Dependence of σ on energy and spin Cross sections change with the energy of an incoming particle (usually decrease because an interaction is less likely to change its direction at high energy) and its spin state (though we usually average over all spins). One should think of the cross section as a measure of the range and strength of the force between two particles. Figure 1 shows the total cross section for various processes as a function of the center of mass energy s. The pp, pp, K p, π p and Σ p cross sections are mediated by strong interactions ( σ mb) while the γ p and γγ processes result from electromagnetic interactions (with σ µb ). Figure shows the cross section for e + e hadrons, mediated by electromagnetic and weak interactions (these become comparable near the Z mass ~ 91GeV). Figure 3 shows the cross sections for neutrino-nucleon and antineutrino-nucleon processes, which are mediated by weak interactions, as a function of neutrino energy. These weak interaction processes have cross sections in the range of σ fb. 4

5 Figure 1: Graph showing various total cross sections in mb (from PDG) Figure : Plot of e + e hadrons combining datasets from multiple experiments 5

6 Figure 3: Plots of neutrino-nucleon and antineutrino-nucleon cross sections. What s actually plotted is σ ν p / E ν (from PDG). 5 Luminosity and integrated luminosity For a given beam of flux J striking a target of number density n t and thickness Δx, the rate of interactions for a process having a cross section σ is given by J scat = Jσ n t Δx Lσ, where the factor L = Jn t Δx = n b v b A b n t Δx multiplying the cross section is known as the luminosity [cm sec 1 ]. The luminosity is one of the fundamental quantities that governs how successful an experiment will be because it determines the scattering rate. Note that the scattering rate J scat = Lσ is the product of a quantity determined by physics (cross section) and a quantity determined by experimental setup (luminosity). Integrated luminosity: The integrated luminosity L int L dt gives a measure of the total number of collisions over a period of time. For example, in Sep. 01 the LHC had an average luminosity of ~ cm s 1. The integrated luminosity over an hour was ( ) 3600 = cm = 18pb 1. L int is most often expressed as pb 1, fb 1, L int = etc. rather than cm. 6

7 5.1 Example 1: Neutrino-nucleon event rate The neutrino-nucleon total cross section at energy E ν = 1 GeV is σ = cm = 8 fb. If a neutrino beam with total flux J = / sec strikes an iron target, how thick does the target have to be in order to get 1000 interactions per day? Using 1000 = LσT, where T = sec, we find that the luminosity is L = N scat / σt = 1000 / ( ) = cm s 1 The integrated luminosity is L int = LT = = cm = 15fb 1. The target nucleon density (protons and neutrons) for iron is n t = ρ / m 0 = 7.87 g/cm 3 This yields a target thickness of ( ) / ( g/nucleon) = / cm 3 ( ) = 31 cm Δx = L / Jn t = / Example : Detecting a new particle in the CMS experiment The average luminosity at CMS during Sep., 01 was cm s 1. Physicists are looking for a new particle with an estimated cross section of 0.5 pb and a detection efficiency (all decay products measured) of 1%. How long must the experiment run before CMS has collected 144 events where the particle is measured? Since the detection efficiency is ε = 0.1, we must run long enough to accumulate 144 events where the particle is detected. Thus we have 144 = LσεT. Solving for T yields ( ) = 0.9M sec 11 days T = 144 / The integrated luminosity is L int = = cm = 9.6fb 1. 6 Basic cross section definitions ( ) Elastic: ingoing and outgoing particles are the same, e.g. σ e + e e + e or σ ( pp pp). ( ) Inelastic: opposite case, i.e., when either beam particle or target particle is changed or new particles are produced, e.g. σ e + e µ + µ ( ). or σ pp pδ+ Total: sum of elastic and inelastic cross sections. The total pp cross section at 10 TeV CM energy is about 100 mb. Differential: cross section for scattering within a restricted range of some observable, e.g. angle range dθ around some direction θ gives / dθ : Many kinds of differential cross sections are measured, e.g. / dω, / de, d σ / dxdy. 7

8 Production (e.g., σ ( pp W + + X )) any process producing a W + in the final state. A production cross section is always inelastic. Inclusive (e.g., σ pp π + + X process. Exclusive (e.g., σ pp ppπ 0 ( ) ): each π + adds to the cross section. This is also a production ( ) ): an exactly defined final state (opposite of inclusive). 7 Cross section formulas for some processes Using simple rules (applied to Feynman diagrams), cross sections of processes can be calculated, at least in a first approximation, in theories with well-defined interactions. Below I list some standard cross sections in natural units as a function of s, the center of mass energy squared, and θ, the angle between one of the outgoing particles and the beam. G F = GeV is the weak decay constant, α is the familiar electromagnetic coupling constant, α s is the QCD coupling constant and t and u are the other Mandelstam invariants. Recall that t p 1 p 3 ( ) and u ( p 1 p 4 ). At high energy where masses can be neglected ( ) and u = 1 s 1+ cosθ ( ). The total cross sections listed on the RHS are ob- t = 1 s 1 cosθ tained by integrating over solid angle, dω = d cosθdφ = sinθdθdφ. ( dω e+ e µ + µ ) = α ( 4s 1+ cos θ ) σ ( e + e µ + µ ) = 4πα 3s ( ) = G Fs σ ( ν µ d µ u) = G Fs dω ν µ d µ u dω ν µ u µ+ d 4π ( ) = G Fs ( ) σ ν µ u µ + d 1+ cosθ 16π ( dω e+ e γγ ) = α u + t s tu qq gg dω ( ) = 8α s ( ) 7s t + u 1 tu 9 s π ( ) = G Fs 3π 8

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