The relativistic foundations of synchrotron radiation

Giorgio Margaritondo, Johann Rafelski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Special relativity (SR) determines the properties of synchrotron radiation, but the corresponding mechanisms are frequently misunderstood. Time dilation is often invoked among the causes, whereas its role would violate the principles of SR. Here it is shown that the correct explanation of the synchrotron radiation properties is provided by a combination of the Doppler shift, not dependent on time dilation effects, contrary to a common belief, and of the Lorentz transformation into the particle reference frame of the electromagnetic field of the emission-inducing device, also with no contribution from time dilation. Concluding, the reader is reminded that much, if not all, of our argument has been available since the inception of SR, a research discipline of its own standing.Common misunderstandings about the relativistic mechanisms of synchrotron radiation emission are identified and corrected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)898-901
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Synchrotron Radiation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Doppler
  • Lorentz transformation
  • special relativity
  • time dilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation


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