Questions tagged [helicity]

In particle physics, helicity is the projection of the angular momentum onto the direction of momentum. For massless spin-1⁄2 particles, helicity is equivalent to the chirality operator multiplied by $\hbar/2$, so may be used for related chirality questions as well.

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72
votes
8answers
16k views

Why is the $S_{z} =0$ state forbidden for photons?

If photons are spin-1 bosons, then doesn't quantum mechanics imply that the allowed values for the z-component of spin (in units of $\hbar$) are -1, 0, and 1? Why then in practice do we only use the $...
21
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2answers
4k views

How does one experimentally determine chirality, helicity, spin and angular momentum of a fundamental particle?

If I've got an instance of a fundamental particle, how can I separate out the measurements of these four quantities? (I think) I understand the theory behind them, and why the particles in the ...
11
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1answer
2k views

What is polarisation, spin, helicity, chirality and parity?

Polarisation, spin, helicity, chirality and parity keep confusing me. They seem to be related, but exactly how they are related is unclear to me. Can someone maybe give a short overview about what ...
13
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1answer
3k views

Why does photon have only two possible eigenvalues of helicity? [duplicate]

Photon is a spin-1 particle. Were it massive, its spin projected along some direction would be either 1, -1, or 0. But photons can only be in an eigenstate of $S_z$ with eigenvalue $\pm 1$ (z as the ...
30
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4answers
13k views

What's the difference between helicity and chirality?

When a particle spins in the same direction as its momentum, it has right helicity, and left helicity otherwise. Neutrinos, however, have some kind of inherent helicity called chirality. But they can ...
5
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1answer
823 views

Confusion with chirality eigenstates

In the Weyl/chiral basis, the four components of the Dirac spinor represent left-chirality spin up, left-chirality spin down, right-chirality spin up, and right-chirality spin down, respectively. When ...
11
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1answer
833 views

How can we measure chirality in experiments?

Chirality is a concept quite different from helicity. These two concepts only happen to have the same numerical value for massless particles. I understand that we can measure helicity, but how can we ...
12
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3answers
4k views

If photons carry 1 spin unit, why does visible light seem to have no angular momentum?

Spin 1 silver atoms have a definite spin axis, e.g. up or down along an axis labeled X. This in turn means that they carry angular momentum in an overt, visible fashion. However, spin 1 photons do ...
4
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1answer
2k views

Why helicity is proportional to the spin of particle and has two values?

How can it be shown without using the little group formalism? Let's have the Wigner's classification for the irreducible represetation of the Poincare group. For the massless case the eigenvalues of ...
0
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3answers
214 views

Spin Up with Indefinite Helicity

Imagine we are studying the spin quantization along the same axis as the momentum. What if I have a Dirac spinor with a spin up but no definite helicity ($\psi_L,\psi_R\neq0$): $$ u(p)= \left(\begin{...
9
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2answers
3k views

How can helicity be conserved but chirality not?

I read in a book that for $\beta$-decay the electrons have always been found to have an expectation value for their helicity of $h=-v/c$. Then ist is said in the book, that it follows from this ...
13
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1answer
1k views

What is the difference between the properties of Electron spin and Photon polarization/helicity?

What is the difference between a photon's polarization/helicity and an electrons spin half? I know that the photon is spin 1 but isn't its polarization analogous to spin half? This question stems ...
3
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2answers
591 views

What are the actual transformation properties of Dirac spinors $u_\sigma(p)$?

Let $u_\sigma(p)$ be a Dirac spinor. As far as I know, it transforms under changes of reference frame according to $$ u_\sigma(p)=S(\Lambda)u_\sigma(\Lambda p)\tag{1} $$ where the $\sigma$ label doesn'...
5
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3answers
10k views

Helical motion of charged particle in external magnetic field

When an electron moves in uniform external magnetic field, with velocity not perpendicular, I understand that the magnitude of force is only due to the perpendicular component of velocity and is ...
13
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1answer
5k views

What is chirality?

I actually wanted to make the title as "What is the difference between chirality and helicity"? But I didn't do that because I don't understand properly what chirality is. I have gone through this ...
16
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1answer
947 views

Chirality, helicity and the weak interaction

From what I'm understanding about Dirac spinors, using the Weyl basis for the $\gamma$ matrices the first two components behave as a left handed Weyl spinor, while the third and the fourth form a ...
8
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2answers
4k views

Why photon only have helicity other than spin? [duplicate]

When learning angular momentum in quantum mechanics, a spin 1 particle have 3 states. Then I saw from sakurai's modern quantum mechanics that photon's two polarization are just like spins, but with ...
5
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2answers
868 views

Doubts concerning Wigner's classification

Wigner classified particles in function of the eigenvalues of $P_\mu P^\mu$ and $W_\mu W^\mu$. Then, it can be proved that for massless particles spin values can be only $\pm s_{max}$. But for a ...
7
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1answer
922 views

Does the concept of both helicity and chirality make sense for a massive Dirac spinor?

Does the concept of both helicity and chirality make sense for a massive Dirac spinor? A massive electron in the chiral basis is written as a column made up of $\psi_L$ and $\psi_R$. What is the ...
7
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0answers
469 views

Chirality, helicity and their relationship for the massless case

Chirality can be interpreted as a property of Lorentz group - Lorentz transformation of field through representation $(s, 0)$ or representation $(0, s)$. For the massless particles one says, that ...
4
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2answers
263 views

How are the two independent states of polarization of photon related to the two helicity states?

(1) In the canonical quantization of the free electromagnetic field, the Coulomb gauge condition $$A^0=0,~~ \nabla\cdot\textbf{A}=0\tag{1}$$ implies that the polarization vector $\epsilon^\mu$ ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Photon spin projection to arbitrary axis

For photons (and any massless particle) we consider only a spin projection into the direction of motion (helicity). Why it's meaningless to talk about projection of photon's spin into some arbitrary ...
5
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1answer
838 views

Weak interaction and the Chirality of anti-particles

Consider a weak current of the form $ J^{\mu} = \bar{u}_{\nu}\gamma^{\mu}(1-\gamma^5)u_{e} $ This describes the part of a weak process where a left-handed electron converts into a left-handed ...
2
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2answers
127 views

Difference between left- and right-handed, helicity and chirality

What is the difference? I know there is the (almost) same question What's the difference between helicity and chirality? but when a particle is given as left-handed. Is it helicity or chirality?
0
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1answer
216 views

Why helicity for massless particles is Lorentz invariant?

By definition helicity is projection of spin onto the 3 momentum. $$h={\bf J} \cdot {\mathbf{P }} $$ where ${\mathbf{P }}=(P_1,P_2,P_3)$ is the momentum operator and ${\mathbf{J }}=(J_1,J_2,J_3)$ ...
4
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1answer
1k views

Pion decay: why is the positron electron neutrino decay suppressed?

I'm reading through M. Thomson's Modern Particle Physics to better understand why the positron electron neutrino decay channel is suppressed relative to the muon and muon neutrino decay route. I know ...
2
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1answer
208 views

Is there a standard convention for whether the term “handedness” refers to helicity or chirality?

I was under the impression that the "handedness" of a massive spin-1/2 particle refers to its chirality rather than its helicity. This answer, this one and Srednicki's QFT textbook seem to use the ...
2
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0answers
330 views

Spin and polarization, QM vs QFT

On page 34 of A. Zee's book QFT in a Nutshell, he states: I expect you to remember the concept of polarization from your course on electromagnetism. A massive spin 1 particle has three degrees of ...
2
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1answer
95 views

Helicity amplitudes and muon/electron currents

I have the following helicity spinor: $$ u_R=\sqrt{E} \begin{pmatrix} c \\ se^{i\phi} \\ c \\ se^{i\phi} \end{pmatrix} $$ We take $s=\sin\theta/2$ and $c=\cos\theta/2$. Also, $E$ and $\phi$ are ...
2
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3answers
318 views

Does orbital angular mometum has no meaning for single photons?

In the quantization of free electromagnetic field, it is found that the left-circularly polarised photons corrsponds to helicity $\vec{S}\cdot\hat p=+\hbar$ and right-circularly polarised photons ...
1
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1answer
77 views

Helicity states

On page 71 of Weinberg's book The Quantum Theory of Fields: Volume I, he defines the operators $$A=J_2+K_1$$and $$B=-J_1+K_2$$ where ${\mathbf{J }}=(J_1,J_2,J_3)$ are the rotation generators and ${\...
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3answers
475 views

Mathematical proof on helicity of a massive fermion is not Lorentz invariant

What is the mathematical proof that the helicity of a massive spin-$1/2$ fermion is not Lorentz invariant? Something is Lorentz invariant (e.g., $P_\mu P^\mu$) if it commutes with all the generators ...
1
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2answers
662 views

Transverse polarizations of a massless spin 1 particle

Physical polarization vectors are transverse, $p\cdot{\epsilon}=0$, where $p$ is the momentum of a photon and $\epsilon$ is a polarization vector. Physical polarization vectors are unchanged under a ...