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BOOK - Das a. & Ferbel T. - Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics

# BOOK - Das a. & Ferbel T. - Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics

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01/31/2013

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Both parity and time reversal are discrete space-time symmetry transforma-
tions, and it is natural to ask whether there are any discrete transformations
in the internal Hilbert space of a quantum mechanical system. Charge con-
jugation is, in fact, this kind of transformation, under which the space-time
coordinates are unchanged and the discrete transformation affects only the
internal properties of the state.
Let us recall that the classification of the electron as particle and
positron as antiparticle is arbitrary. In fact, the definition of positive and
negative electric charge, positive and negative strangeness, the assignment
of baryon number, etc., as we have stated before, are all a matter of con-
vention. Once a choice is made, however, we can measure the quantum
numbers of other particles relative to the defined assignments. The charge
conjugation operation inverts all internal quantum numbers of states, and
thereby relates particles to their antiparticles. Classically, one can represent
charge conjugation as the following transformation on electric charge Q

gA-Q.

(11.52)

Since electric charge is the source of electric and magnetic fields, it follows
that under such a transformation

E A -E,

B A -B.

(11.53)

(This is simply because both E and B are linear in electric charge.) It is
straightforward to show that Maxwell's equations are invariant under such
a transformation.

For a quantum mechanical state \tp(Q,r,t)), where Q represents all the
internal quantum numbers such as electric charge, lepton number, baryon
number, strangeness, etc., charge conjugation reverses all the charges,

MQ,?,t)) A \ip(-Q,r,t)).

(11.54)

Consequently, a state can be an eigenstate of the charge conjugation op-
erator C if, at the very least, it is electrically neutral. Thus, for example,
the photon (7), the atom of positronium (e~ - e+), the n° meson, etc., can

282

Nuclear and Particle Physics

be eigenstates of C. However, not all charge-neutral states are eigenstates
of C since they may carry other internal quantum numbers. For example,
the following are, clearly, not eigenstates of C

\n) —> \n),

|TT p) —> |TT+P),

\K°) A \K°).

(11.55)

Because two consecutive charge conjugation transformations will leave a
state unchanged, it follows that the eigenvalues of C, or the charge parities
of an eigenstate, can be only ±1. Thus, for example, from Eq. (11.53) we
conclude that the photon, the quantum of the electromagnetic field, must
have a charge parity of — 1,

»7c(7) = -l-

(H-56)

If charge conjugation is a symmetry of the theory, that is, if H and C
commute

[C,H] = 0,

(11.57)

then the charge parity for any given process must be conserved. Because
Maxwell's equations do not change under C, electromagnetic interactions
should therefore be invariant under charge conjugation. Consequently, from
the decay of the n° into two photons

7f° —>7 + 7,

(H-58)

we conclude that the TT° must be even under C, if charge parity is to be
conserved in the decay

Va (T°) = Vc (l)Vc (7) = (-1)2 = +1-

(H-59)

In variance under charge conjugation therefore leads to restrictions on
the kinds of interactions or decays that can take place. For example, a
7T° cannot decay to an odd number of photons because that would violate
conservation of C-parity

Discrete TYansformations

283

7r°/>n7,

for n odd.

(11.60)

And, in fact, the experimental upper limit on the branching ratio

TT°->27 1S ~ iU •

While charge conjugation is known to be a symmetry of electromag-
netic and strong interactions, we can argue, as follows, that it must be
violated in weak interactions. As we have emphasized, charge conjugation
does not change space-time properties, and therefore the handedness of a
quantum state is insensitive to such a transformation. Thus, under charge
conjugation, we obtain

\VR) A \VR),

(11.61)

where the subscripts L and R refer to left and right handed neutrinos (or
antineutrinos), respectively. But we pointed out previously that there is
no evidence for the existence of right handed neutrinos or left handed an-
tineutrinos. Consequently, the charge conjugate process of /3-decay cannot
take place, and charge conjugation therefore cannot be a symmetry of such
interactions. Nevertheless, although both P and C symmetry are violated
in /? decay, the combined transformation of CP appears to be a symmetry
of such processes. One can see this heuristically as follows

K) -A- \vR) -£» \VR),

\VR) A |F£)-£> |I/L>,

(11.62)

that is, the combined operation of CP takes a physical state to another
physical state, which is not what the C or P operations do individually.
Nevertheless, the CP operation is not a symmetry of all weak interactions,
as we will discover in the following chapter.

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