Cherenkov radiation from the quantum vacuum

Alexander J. MacLeod, Adam Noble, Dino A. Jaroszynski

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Abstract

A charged particle moving through a medium emits Cherenkov radiation when its velocity exceeds the phase velocity of light in that medium. Under the influence of a strong electromagnetic field, quantum fluctuations can become polarized, imbuing the vacuum with an effective anisotropic refractive index and allowing the possibility of Cherenkov radiation from the quantum vacuum. We analyze the properties of this vacuum Cherenkov radiation in strong laser pulses and the magnetic field around a pulsar, finding regimes in which it is the dominant radiation mechanism. This radiation process may be relevant to the excess signals of high energy photons in astrophysical observations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number161601
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume122
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2019

Keywords

  • nonlinear vacuum electrodynamics
  • Cherenkov radiation

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