We reexamine the theory of hadronic photon-nucleon interactions at the quark-gluon level. The possibility of multiple parton collisions in a single photon-nucleon collision requires an eikonal treatment of the high-energy scattering process. We give a general formulation of the theory in which the γp cross section is expressed as a sum over properly eikonalized cross sections for the interaction of the virtual hadronic components of the photon with the proton, with each cross section weighted by the probability with which that component appears in the photon, and then develop a detailed model which includes contributions from light vector mesons and from excited virtual states described in a quark-gluon basis. The parton distribution functions which appear can be related approximately to those in the pion, while a weighted sum gives the distribution functions for the photon. We use the model to make improved QCD-based predictions for the total inelastic photon-nucleon and photon-nucleus cross sections at energies relevant for DESY HERA experiments and cosmic-ray observations. We emphasize the importance in this procedure of including a soft-scattering background such that the calculated cross sections join smoothly with low-energy data. Our results show clearly that high-energy measurements of the total inelastic γp cross section can impose strong constraints on the gluon and quark distributions in the photon, and indirectly on those in the pion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)