The distributions of outgoing protons and charged hadrons in high energy proton-nucleus collisions are described rather well by a linear extrapolation from proton-proton collisions. This linear extrapolation is applied to precisely measured Drell-Yan cross sections for 800 GeV protons incident on a variety of nuclear targets. The deviation from linear scaling in the atomic number A can be accounted for by energy degradation of the proton as it passes through the nucleus if account is taken of the time delay of particle production due to quantum coherence. We infer an average proper coherence time of 0.4±0.1 fm/c. Then we apply the linear extrapolation to measured J/ψ production cross sections for 200 and 450 GeV/c protons incident on a variety of nuclear targets. Our analysis takes into account energy loss of the beam proton, the time delay of particle production due to quantum coherence, and absorption of the J/ψ on nucleons. The best representation is obtained for a coherence time of 0.5 fm/c, which is consistent with Drell-Yan production, and an absorption cross section of 3.6 mb, which is consistent with the value deduced from photoproduction of the J/ψ on nuclear targets. Finally, we compare to recent J/ψ data from S+U and Pb+Pb collisions at the SPS. The former are reproduced reasonably well with no new parameters, but not the latter.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the U. S. Department of Energy under grant DE-FG02-87ER40328, by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, by the Fonds FCAR of the Quebec Government, by the Director, Office of Energy Research, Office of High Energy and Nuclear Physics, Division of Nuclear Physics, and by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Nuclear Sciences, of the U.S. Department of Energy under contract No. DE-AC03-76SF00098.