In 2015 the PHENIX collaboration at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider recorded p+p, p+Al, and p+Au collision data at center of mass energies of sNN=200 GeV with the proton beam(s) transversely polarized. At very forward rapidities η>6.8 relative to the polarized proton beam, neutrons were detected either inclusively or in (anti)correlation with detector activity related to hard collisions. The resulting single spin asymmetries, that were previously reported, have now been extracted as a function of the transverse momentum of the neutron as well as its longitudinal momentum fraction xF. The explicit kinematic dependence, combined with the correlation information allows for a closer look at the interplay of different mechanisms suggested to describe these asymmetries, such as hadronic interactions or electromagnetic interactions in ultraperipheral collisions, UPC. Events that are correlated with a hard collision indeed display a mostly negative asymmetry that increases in magnitude as a function of transverse momentum with only little dependence on xF. In contrast, events that are not likely to have emerged from a hard collision display positive asymmetries for the nuclear collisions with a kinematic dependence that resembles that of a UPC based model. Because the UPC interaction depends strongly on the charge of the nucleus, those effects are very small for p+p collisions, moderate for p+Al collisions, and large for p+Au collisions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)