Two recent experimental observations at the ATOMKI Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (regarding the angular emission pattern of electron-positron pairs from nuclear transitions from excited states in 8Be and 4He) indicate the possible existence of a particle of a rest mass energy of roughly 17 MeV. The so-called X17 particle constitutes a virtual state in the process, preceding the emission of the electron-positron pair. Based on the symmetry of the nuclear transitions (1+ → 0+ and 0- →0 +), the X17 could either be a vector, or a pseudoscalar particle. Here, we calculate the effective potentials generated by the X17, for hyperfine interactions in simple atomic systems, for both the pseudoscalar as well as the vector X17 hypotheses. The effective Hamiltonians are obtained in a general form which is applicable to both electronic as well as muonic bound systems. The effect of virtual annihilation and its contribution to the hyperfine splitting also is considered. Because of the short range of the X17-generated potentials, the most promising pathway for the observation of the X17-mediated effects in bound systems concerns hyperfine interactions, which, for S states, are given by modifications of short-range (Dirac-δ) potentials in coordinate space. For the pseudoscalar hypothesis, the exchange of one virtual X17 quantum between the bound lepton and the nucleus leads to hyperfine effects, but does not affect the Lamb shift. Effects due to the X17 are shown to be drastically enhanced for muonic bound systems. Prospects for the detection of hyperfine effects mediated by X17 exchange are analyzed for muonic deuterium, muonic hydrogen, muonium, true muonium (μ+ μ- bound system), and positronium.




The author acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation (Grant No. PHY-1710856).

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Publication Date

01 Jun 2020

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