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On the significance of radiation reaction

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Abstract: Radiation reaction has been a topic in physics for more than a century. The lack of a complete and consistent treatment in classical electrodynamics, and the appearance of unphysical solutions, has often postponed the discussion of reactive effects of radiation to late chapters in textbooks, with comprehensive discussion usually reserved for advanced texts. As a result, radiation reaction may appear to some mainly as a curiosity. This modest focus is in stark contrast to the fact that radiation reaction played a crucial role when Niels Bohr arrived at his postulates that became part of the foundation of quantum mechanics, and that it determines the collapse of binary astrophysical systems as well as the deceleration of high-energy electrons that penetrate matter. We discuss these cases and show how, for ultra-relativistic electrons penetrating single crystals, we have been able to achieve the at first glance bizarre scenario where the reaction force is many times greater than the interaction force between the electron and the crystal without which no radiation would appear. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

TidsskriftEuropean Physics Journal D
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2022

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