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Can a gamma initiate weak decay of a proton?

  1. Sep 22, 2011 #1

    Philip Wood

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    Does this ever happen?

    p + [itex]\gamma[/itex] [itex]\rightarrow[/itex] n + e+ + [itex]\nu_e[/itex]

    It seems possible, if the [itex]\gamma[/itex] has enough energy, but I wonder if anyone can confirm that it happens.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2011 #2


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    While I have no idea of whether this could happen in practice, or what the cross section would be, I don't see anything to fundamentally prohibit it. In fact, it strikes me you could look at this as combining two well known interactions that do occur:

    p + gamma -> p + e+ + e-

    then, electron capture. Combine, and you get the proposed reaction. This supports the view that there shouldn't be anything fundamental prohibiting this.
  4. Sep 22, 2011 #3

    Philip Wood

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    Thank you. This does indeed make it seem even more plausible.
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