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Detailed analysis of light emitted from excited atomic states provides an efficient key to the understanding of many atomic collision processes. The mathematical description of coherent electromagnetic radiation is briefly reviewed, including light polarization, the Stokes vector parameterization, and the Poincaré sphere. The electric dipole radiation pattern emitted from an excited P state is then discussed and related to the scattering amplitudes for excitation of the atomic state. The connection between light polarization and parameters characterizing the atomic state and the electron charge cloud is discussed in some detail, including experimental geometries for their determination. Finally, the effects due to loss of full coherence and non-conservation of atomic reflection symmetry are considered.
KeywordsStokes Vector Electron Charge Cloud Positive Reflection Symmetry Natural Coordinate Frame Basic Atomic Physics
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