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In particle physics, a shower is a cascade of secondary particles produced as the result of a high-energy particle interacting with dense matter. The incoming particle interacts, producing multiple new particles with lesser energy; each of these then interacts, in the same way, a process that continues until many thousands, millions, or even billions of low-energy particles are produced. These are then stopped in the matter and absorbed.[1]

Types

The start of an electromagnetic shower.

There are two basic types of showers. Electromagnetic showers are produced by a particle that interacts primarily or exclusively via the electromagnetic force, usually a photon or electron. Hadronic showers are produced by hadrons (i.e. nucleons and other particles made of quarks), and proceed mostly via the strong nuclear force.

Electromagnetic showers

An electromagnetic shower begins when a high-energy electron, positron or photon enters a material. At high energies (above a few MeV, below which photoelectric effect and Compton scattering are dominant), photons interact with matter primarily via pair production — that is, they convert into an electron-positron pair, interacting with an atomic nucleus or electron in order to conserve momentum. High-energy electrons and positrons primarily emit photons, a process called bremsstrahlung. These two processes (pair production and bremsstrahlung) continue until photons fall below the pair production threshold, and energy losses of electrons other than bremsstrahlung start to dominate. The characteristic amount of matter traversed for these related interactions is called the radiation length . electromagnetic force, usually a photon or electron. Hadronic showers are produced by hadrons (i.e. nucleons and other particles made of quarks), and proceed mostly via the strong nuclear force.

Electromagnetic showers

An electromagnetic shower begins when a high-energy electron, positron or photon enters a material. At high energies (above a few MeV, below which photoelectric effect and Compton scattering are dominant), photons interact with matter primarily via pair production — that is, they convert into an electron-positron pair, interacting with an atomic nucleus or electron in order to conserve momentum. High-energy electrons and positrons primarily emit photons, a process called bremsstrahlung. These two processes (pair production and bremsstrahlung) continue until photons fall below the pair production threshold, and energy losses of electrons other than bremsstrahlung start to dominate. The characteristic amount of matter traversed for these related interactions is called the radiation length .