The first measurement of the e+e pair production at low lepton pair transverse momentum (p T,ee) and low invariant mass (m ee) in non-central Pb–Pb collisions at sNN = 5.02 TeV at the LHC is presented. The dielectron production is studied with the ALICE detector at midrapidity (|η e | < 0.8) as a function of invariant mass (0.4 ≤ m ee < 2.7 GeV/c 2) in the 50–70% and 70–90% centrality classes for p T,ee < 0.1 GeV/c, and as a function of p T,ee in three m ee intervals in the most peripheral Pb–Pb collisions. Below a p T,ee of 0.1 GeV/c, a clear excess of e+e pairs is found compared to the expectations from known hadronic sources and predictions of thermal radiation from the medium. The m ee excess spectra are reproduced, within uncertainties, by different predictions of the photon–photon production of dielectrons, where the photons originate from the extremely strong electromagnetic fields generated by the highly Lorentz-contracted Pb nuclei. Lowest-order quantum electrodynamic (QED) calculations, as well as a model that takes into account the impact-parameter dependence of the average transverse momentum of the photons, also provide a good description of the p T,ee spectra. The measured 〈pT,ee2〉 of the excess p T,ee spectrum in peripheral Pb–Pb collisions is found to be comparable to the values observed previously at RHIC in a similar phase-space region. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Jets and Jet Substructure
  • Quark-Gluon Plasma


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