Gamma ray vortices from nonlinear inverse Compton scattering of circularly polarized light [Cross-Listing]
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Inverse Compton scattering (ICS) is an elemental radiation process that produces high-energy photons both in nature and in the laboratory. Non-linear ICS is a process in which multiple photons are converted to a single high-energy photon. Here, we theoretically show that the photon produced by non-linear ICS of circularly polarized photons is a vortex, which means that it possesses a helical wave front and carries orbital angular momentum. Our work explains a recent experimental result regarding non-linear Compton scattering that clearly shows an annular intensity distribution as a remarkable feature of a vortex beam. Our work implies that gamma ray vortices should be produced in various situations in astrophysics in which high-energy electrons and intense circularly polarized light fields coexist. They should play a critical role in stellar nucleosynthesis. Non-linear ICS is the most promising radiation process for realizing a gamma ray vortex source based on currently available laser and accelerator technologies, which would be an indispensable tool for exploring gamma ray vortex science.