infrared catastrophe

infrared catastrophe

[¦in·frə¦red kə′tȧs·trə·fē]
(quantum mechanics)
The logarithmic divergence in the cross section (which one would expect to be finite) for the emission of low-energy photons in bremsstrahlung and in the double Compton effect, according to quantum electrodynamics; the difficulty is resolved by taking radiative corrections to elastic scattering into account. Also known as infrared problem.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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