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Evidence for light-by-light scattering in heavy-ion collisions with the ATLAS detector at the LHC

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  • ATLAS Collaboration
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>14/08/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Physics
Issue number9
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)852-858
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Light-by-light scattering (γγ→γγ) is a quantum-mechanical process that is forbidden in the classical theory of electrodynamics. This reaction is accessible at the Large Hadron Collider thanks to the large electromagnetic field strengths generated by ultra-relativistic colliding lead ions. Using 480 μb−1 of lead–lead collision data recorded at a centre-of-mass energy per nucleon pair of 5.02 TeV by the ATLAS detector, here we report evidence for light-by-light scattering. A total of 13 candidate events were observed with an expected background of 2.6 ± 0.7 events. After background subtraction and analysis corrections, the fiducial cross-section of the process Pb+Pb(γγ)→Pb(∗)+Pb(∗)γγ, for photon transverse energy ET > 3 GeV, photon absolute pseudorapidity |η| < 2.4, diphoton invariant mass greater than 6 GeV, diphoton transverse momentum lower than 2 GeV and diphoton acoplanarity below 0.01, is measured to be 70 ± 24 (stat.) ± 17 (syst.) nb, which is in agreement with the standard model predictions.