Paper 4, Section II, C

Define the 4-momentum of a particle and describe briefly the principle of conservation of 4-momentum.

A photon of angular frequency $\omega$ is absorbed by a particle of rest mass $m$ that is stationary in the laboratory frame of reference. The particle then splits into two equal particles, each of rest mass $\mathrm{\alpha m}$.

Find the maximum possible value of $\alpha$ as a function of $\mu=\hbar \omega / m c^{2}$. Verify that as $\mu \rightarrow 0$, this maximum value tends to $\frac{1}{2}$. For general $\mu$, show that when the maximum value of $\alpha$ is achieved, the resulting particles are each travelling at speed $c /\left(1+\mu^{-1}\right)$ in the laboratory frame.

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