Electromagnetic scoot

Samuel E. Gralla, Kunal Lobo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Recent work on scattering of massive bodies in general relativity has revealed that the mechanical center of mass of the system (or, more precisely, its relativistic mass moment) undergoes a shift during the scattering process. We show that the same phenomenon occurs in classical scattering of charged particles in flat spacetime and study the effect in detail. Working to leading order in the interaction, we derive formulas for the initial and final values of the mechanical and electromagnetic energy, momentum, angular momentum, and mass moment. We demonstrate that the change in the mechanical mass moment is balanced by an opposite change in the mass moment stored in the electromagnetic field. This is a nonradiative exchange between particles and field, analogous to the exchange of kinetic and potential energy. A simple mechanical analogy is a person scooting forward on the floor, who exchanges mass moment with the floor. We therefore say that electromagnetic scattering results in an electromagnetic scoot.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number084053
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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