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Question on photon-nucleus pair production

  1. Apr 25, 2013 #1
    I'm having a bit of trouble understanding why a nucleus is needed for a gamma ray to interact with in particle pair production. I know that all properties are conserved - spin, charge, etc. -, and I know that the photon must have at least the energy of twice the standing energy of the particle it creates (for electron-positron pairs this is 1.022 MeV, correct?), but why does a nuetral, massles particle (photon) create two charged, massive particles (i.e. an electron and positron), and why is a nucleus necessary?
    I'm asking simply out of curiosity, and any answers would be highly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 25, 2013 #2


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    Try getting both total energy and total (vector) momentum before and after to add up. Remember that the energy-momentum four vector for the gamma ray is a null vector. Can you make a null vector from two time like massive particles' momenta?
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