Rosenbluth separation of the $π^0$ electroproduction cross section

We present deeply virtual $\pi^0$ electroproduction cross-section measurements at $x_B$=0.36 and three different $Q^2$--values ranging from 1.5 to 2 GeV$^2$, obtained from experiment E07-007 that ran in the Hall A at Jefferson Lab. The Rosenbluth technique was used to separate the longitudinal and transverse responses. Results demonstrate that the cross section is dominated by its transverse component, and thus is far from the asymptotic limit predicted by perturbative Quantum Chromodynamics. An indication of a non-zero longitudinal contribution is provided by the interference term $\sigma_{LT}$ also measured. Results are compared with several models based on the leading twist approach of Generalized Parton Distributions (GPDs). In particular, a fair agreement is obtained with models where the scattering amplitude is described by a convolution of chiral-odd (transversity) GPDs of the nucleon with the twist-3 pion distribution amplitude. Therefore, neutral pion electroproduction may offer the exciting possibility of accessing transversity GPDs through experiment.

Comments: Submitted to Physical Review Letters

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