Rare radiative and semileptonic B meson decays
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Recent results at the LHCb and B-factory experiments have suggested that rare processes in B →Vγ and B → V ℓ¯ℓ decays, where V is a vector meson, show some deviation from Standard Model predictions. Although these anomalies are not yet at the level to constitute a formal discovery, they are certainly suggestive of potential New Physics effects in flavour-changing neutral currents. However, explanations within the Standard Model cannot yet be ruled out. This thesis contributes to the understanding of such anomalies in two ways. Firstly, the angular distribution of the B → KJ (→ Kπ)ℓ1¯ℓ2 decay is derived, for the full dimension-six effective weak Hamiltonian, using a generalisation of the helicity formalism to effective theories mediating b → sℓ1¯ℓ2 transitions. This approach sheds light on the origin of the underlying structure, and in the process extends the general angular distribution to decays in which the two leptons in the final state, ℓ1¯ℓ2, are not necessarily identical. An additional benefit of the derivation of the angular distribution presented in this manner is that it lends itself to a moments analysis of the decay. It is shown how the angular distribution changes in the presence of new operators, predicted to be vanishingly small in the Standard Model. Such operators could be sizeable in the presence of New Physics, but using a moments analysis enables the contribution of such operators to be assessed. Secondly, an analysis is presented of the three-particle vector and axial meson distribution amplitudes. It is shown that the distribution amplitudes of both particles are, up to QCD corrections, nearly identical. These results are applied to a new calculation of the long-distance charm loop contribution to radiative B → Vγ decays, and it is shown that the approximate symmetry can be exploited to provide an improved theoretical control in the search for New Physics contributions to right-handed currents in radiative decays.