Measurement of the Target-Normal Single-Spin Asymmetry in Quasielastic Scattering from the Reaction (3)He(↑)(e,e')

Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Oct 23;115(17):172502. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.172502. Epub 2015 Oct 22.


We report the first measurement of the target single-spin asymmetry, A(y), in quasielastic scattering from the inclusive reaction (3)He(↑)(e,e') on a (3)He gas target polarized normal to the lepton scattering plane. Assuming time-reversal invariance, this asymmetry is strictly zero for one-photon exchange. A nonzero A(y) can arise from the interference between the one- and two-photon exchange processes which is sensitive to the details of the substructure of the nucleon. An experiment recently completed at Jefferson Lab yielded asymmetries with high statistical precision at Q(2)=0.13, 0.46, and 0.97 GeV(2). These measurements demonstrate, for the first time, that the (3)He asymmetry is clearly nonzero and negative at the 4σ-9σ level. Using measured proton-to-(3)He cross-section ratios and the effective polarization approximation, neutron asymmetries of -(1-3)% were obtained. The neutron asymmetry at high Q(2) is related to moments of the generalized parton distributions (GPDs). Our measured neutron asymmetry at Q(2)=0.97 GeV(2) agrees well with a prediction based on two-photon exchange using a GPD model and thus provides a new, independent constraint on these distributions.