Abstract:
We study the coherent photoproduction of pseudoscalar mesons---particularly of neutral pions---placing special emphasis on the various sources that put into question earlier nonrelativistic-impulse-approximation calculations. These include: final-state interactions, relativistic effects, off-shell ambiguities, and violations to the impulse approximation. We establish that, while distortions play an essential role in the modification of the coherent cross section, the uncertainty in our results due to the various choices of optical-potential models is relatively small (of at most 30%). By far the largest uncertainty emerges from the ambiguity in extending the many on-shell-equivalent representations of the elementary amplitude off the mass shell. Indeed, relativistic impulse-approximation calculations that include the same pionic distortions, the same nuclear-structure model, and two sets of elementary amplitudes that are identical on-shell, lead to variations in the magnitude of the coherent cross section by up to factors of five. Finally, we address qualitatively the assumption of locality implicit in most impulse-approximation treatments, and suggest that the coherent reaction probes---in addition to the nuclear density---the polarization structure of the nucleus.

Abstract:
We argue that with an increase of the collision energy, elastic photoproduction of $\rho$ mesons on nuclei becomes affected by the significant cross section of photon inelastic diffraction which results in the sizable inelastic nuclear shadowing correction to $\sigma_{\gamma A \to \rho A}$ and by an enhanced contribution of weakly-interacting hadronic configurations in the photon which reduces the effective $\rho$-nucleon cross section. We take these effects into account by combining the vector meson dominance model, upgraded to include the contribution of high-mass fluctuations according to QCD constraints, with the Gribov-Glauber approximation for nuclear shadowing, where the inelastic nuclear shadowing is included by means of cross section fluctuations. The resulting approach allows us to successfully describe the data on elastic $\rho$ photoproduction on nuclei in heavy ion UPCs in the $7 < W_{\gamma p} < 46$ GeV energy range and to predict the value of the cross section of coherent $\rho$ photoproduction in Pb-Pb UPCs at $\sqrt{s_{NN}}=5.02$ TeV in Run 2 at the LHC, $d\sigma_{Pb Pb \to \rho Pb Pb} (y=0)/dy= 560 \pm 25$ mb.

Abstract:
Coherent photoproduction of $\pi^0$-mesons from threshold ($E_{th} \approx$ 136 MeV) throughout the $\Delta$-resonance region and of $\eta$-mesons close to the production threshold ($E_{th} \approx$ 570 MeV for $\eta$) has been measured for $^7$Li nuclei. The experiment was performed using the tagged-photon beam of the Mainz MAMI accelerator with the Crystal Ball and TAPS detectors combined to give an almost 4$\pi$ solid-angle electromagnetic calorimeter. The reactions were identified by a combined invariant-mass and missing-energy analysis. A comparison of the pion data to plane-wave impulse modelling tests the nuclear mass form factor. So far coherent $\eta$-production had been only identified for the lightest nuclear systems ($^2$H and $^3$He). For $^3$He a large enhancement of the cross section above plane-wave approximations had been reported, indicating the formation of a quasi-bound state. The present Li-data for $\eta$-production agree with a plane-wave approximation. Contrary to $^3$He, neither a threshold enhancement of the total cross section nor a deviation of the angular distributions from the expected form-factor dependence were observed.

Abstract:
The subject of this doctoral study is the pseudoscalar meson photoproduction from nuclei. Two types of processes are investigated in this regard: coherent and quasifree processes. In the case of the coherent process, we study it for the photoproduction of pion and eta mesons. We place special emphasis on the various sources that put into question earlier nonrelativistic-impulse-approximation calculations. These include: final-state interactions, relativistic effects, off-shell ambiguities, and violations to the impulse approximation. By far the largest uncertainty emerges from the ambiguity in extending the many on-shell-equivalent representations of the elementary amplitude off the mass shell. In the case of the quasifree process, we study it for the photoproduction of the kaon meson. We compute the recoil polarization of the lambda-hyperon and the photon asymmetry as well as the differential cross section. By introducing the notion of a ``bound-nucleon propagator'' we exploit Feynman's trace techniques to develop closed-form, analytic expressions for all photoproduction observables. Our results indicate that polarization observables are sensitive only to the fundamental physics, making them ideal tools for the study of modifications to the elementary process in the nuclear medium.

Abstract:
The coherent $\omega$-meson photoproduction from nuclei is proposed as a phenomenological method to evaluate the momentum dependence of $\omega$-meson mass shift and width in nuclear matter. We analyze available data on un-separated coherent and incoherent $\omega$-meson photoproduction from nuclei and extract the imaginary part of the the complex forward $\omega{N}$ scattering amplitude, which is proportional to the in-medium $\omega$-meson width. The accuracy of the currently available data is not sufficient to evaluate the real part of forward $\omega{N}$ scattering amplitude and reconstruct the momentum dependence of the mass shift of the $\omega$-meson.

Abstract:
We report the first measurement at the LHC of coherent photoproduction of $\rho^0$ mesons in ultra-peripheral Pb-Pb collisions. The invariant mass and transverse momentum distributions for $\rho^0$ production are studied in the $\pi^+ \pi^-$ decay channel at mid-rapidity. The production cross section in the rapidity range $|y|<0.5$ is found to be $\mathrm{d}\sigma/\mathrm{d}y = 425 \pm 10 \, (\mathrm{stat.})$ $^{+42}_{-50} \, (\mathrm{sys.})$ mb. Coherent $\rho^0$ production is studied with and without requirement of nuclear breakup, and the fractional yields for various breakup scenarios are presented. The results are compared with those from lower energies and with model predictions based on the Glauber model and the color dipole model. The measured cross section is found to be inconsistent with a scaling of the $\gamma$-nucleon cross section using the Glauber model.

Abstract:
Recent results for the photoproduction of mesons off nuclei are reviewed. These experiments have been performed for two major lines of research related to the properties of the strong interaction. The investigation of nucleon resonances requires light nuclei as targets for the extraction of the isospin composition of the electromagnetic excitations. This is done with quasi-free meson photoproduction off the bound neutron and supplemented with the measurement of coherent photoproduction reactions, serving as spin and/or isospin filters. Furthermore, photoproduction from light and heavy nuclei is a very efficient tool for the study of the interactions of mesons with nuclear matter and the in-medium properties of hadrons. Experiments are currently rapidly developing due to the combination of high quality tagged (and polarized) photon beams with state-of-the-art 4pi detectors and polarized targets.

Abstract:
In the last years much work has been done to learn about the properties of the $\rho$-meson in nuclear matter. In a calculation of the in-medium spectralfunction of the $\rho$ we find that it is strongly modified by baryonic resonances, especially the $D_{13}(1520)$, through its coupling to resonance-hole states. In order to test the predictions of a model for the in-medium properties of the $\rho$-meson so far mostly heavy-ion collision have been used. We argue that the coherent photoproduction of $\rho$-mesons yields additional information about the nature of the medium modification. It can be shown that the production amplitude is sensitive on the momentum dependence of the $\rho$-selfenergy. This can be used to distinguish experimentally between various models for the $\rho$ in matter.

Abstract:
Vector mesons may be photoproduced in relativistic heavy-ion collisions when a virtual photon emitted by one nucleus scatters from the other nucleus, emerging as a vector meson. The STAR Collaboration has previously presented measurements of coherent $\rho^0$ photoproduction at center of mass energies of 130 GeV and 200 GeV in AuAu collisions. Here, we present a measurement of the cross section at 62.4 GeV; we find that the cross section for coherent $\rho^0$ photoproduction with nuclear breakup is $10.5\pm1.5\pm 1.6$ mb at 62.4 GeV. The cross-section ratio between 200 GeV and 62.4 GeV is $2.8\pm0.6$, less than is predicted by most theoretical models. It is, however, proportionally much larger than the previously observed $15\pm 55$% increase between 130 GeV and 200 GeV.

Abstract:
In a transport model that combines initial state interactions of the photon with final state interactions of the produced particles we present a calculation of inclusive photoproduction of mesons in nuclei in the energy range from 1 to 7 GeV. We give predictions for the photoproduction cross sections of pions, etas, kaons, antikaons, and $\pi^+\pi^-$ invariant mass spectra in ^{12}C and ^{208}Pb. The effects of nuclear shadowing and final state interaction of the produced particles are discussed in detail.