Deuteron Photodisintegration

The structure of the deuteron, the nucleus of the deuterium atom, is of prime importance to nuclear physicists. The deuteron is a bound state of one proton and one neutron, and it is the nucleus most often used in measurements of neutron structure. Studies of the deuteron have helped determine the role of non-nucleonic degrees of freedom in nuclei and the corrections from relativity. A recent series of Jefferson Lab measurements have focused on the role of quarks in the structure of the deuteron. At high-energy and high-momentum transfer, the deuteron is probed at a length scale smaller than the nucleon size and at an energy scale at which the physical picture simplifies — by considering quarks rather than numerous baryon resonances. Measurements of reaction cross sections confirm the approximate scaling behavior expected from the underlying quark structure, while polarization measurements show simple behavior that's in rough agreement with some quark-based calculations.

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