Scattering of light on relativistic heavy ion beams is widely used for characterizing and tuning the properties of both the light and the ion beam. Its elastic component—Rayleigh scattering—is investigated in this work for photon energies close to certain electronic transitions because of its potential usage in the Gamma Factory initiative at CERN. The angle-differential cross-section, as well as the degree of polarization of the scattered light are investigated for the cases of
resonance transitions in H-like lead ions. In order to gauge the validity and uncertainty of frequently used approximations, we compare different methods. In particular, rigorous quantum electrodynamics calculations are compared with the resonant electric-dipole approximation evaluated within the relativistic and nonrelativistic formalisms. For better understanding of the origin of the approximation, the commonly used theoretical approach is explained here in detail. We find that in most cases, the nonrelativistic resonant electric-dipole approximation fails to describe the properties of the scattered light. At the same time, its relativistic variant agrees with the rigorous treatment within a level of 10% to 20%. These findings are essential for the design of an experimental setup exploiting the scattering process, as well as for the determination of the scattered light properties.
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