Beam asymmetry measurement from pion photoproduction on the neutron
The resonance spectrum of the nucleon gives direct information on the dynamics and interactions of its constituents. This offers an important challenge to the theoretical models of nucleon structure, including the emerging Lattice QCD predictions, conformal field theories and more phenomenological, QCD-based approaches. Although the various models predict different features for the excitation spectra, the experimental information is currently of too poor quality to differentiate between these models. Pion photoproduction from the nucleon is a powerful probe of the spectrum as most resonances are expected to couple to the pion decay channel. However, cross-sections alone are not sensitive enough to allow identification of the underlying excitation spectrum, as the resonances have energy widths larger than their separations. A major world effort is underway to additionally measure polarisation observables in the production process. For a model-independent analysis a “complete” set of single- and doublepolarisation observables needs to be measured in experiments involving polarised beams, targets and a means of determining recoil nucleon polarisation. In particular, the beam asymmetry is a critical observable for the constraint of partial wave analyses (PWA) used to extract the nucleon excitation spectrum from the data. Almost all of the available world data on the beam asymmetry has been taken on the proton, with the neutron dataset sparse, containing only three experiments at fixed angles and in a limited photon energy range. The lack of extensive data on the neutron is a major deficiency, as different resonances have very different electromagnetic couplings to the proton and neutron. As a result, the data from the two targets will have very different relative contributions from, and sensitivities to, the spectrum of nucleon resonances. Moreover, neutron data is essential for the separation of the isoscalar and isovector components of the reaction amplitudes. This thesis presents a very high statistics measurement of the photon beam asymmetry on the neutron with close-to-complete angular coverage and a wide range of invariant mass (1610 – 2320 MeV) extending over the third resonance region, where the excitation spectrum is particularly ill defined. The experiment was conducted at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab) using a tagged, linearly polarised photon beam, a liquid deuterium target and the CEBAF Large Acceptance Spectrometer (CLAS). The quality and quantity of the data has allowed an invariantmass resolution of 10 MeV and an angular resolution of 0.1 in the cosine of the centre-of-mass pion production angle, θ. Good agreement is evident in the regions where there is kinematic overlap with sparse previous data. Comparison of the new data is made with the two main partial wave analyses, SAID andMAID. Significant discrepancy is observed at backward θ with SAID (across most of the energy range) and MAID (up to ∼ 1750 MeV) and also below ∼ 35◦ in θ with both analyses. This extensive new dataset will help significantly to constrain partial wave analyses and will be a crucial part of the current world effort to use meson photoproduction to tackle long-standing uncertainties in the fundamental excitation spectrum of the nucleon. As a first step towards this the refitting of the SAID partial wave analysis incorporating the new data was carried out and shows very significant changes in the properties of the magnetic P11, P13, D13, D35, F15, G17 and G19 partial waves.