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When a He atom is ionized, which electron is removed first, the one with the spin up or down? or is it just random?

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An interesting question! Does the polarization of ionizing radiation interact with electron spin? Apparently, that has been investigated to some extent, and some spin information can be obtained from an entangled electron and photon.

So the answer to your question is not a clear-cut "yes" or "no", but depends on the parameters of the incident photon.

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    $\begingroup$ Very interesting, but this seems to be overthinking the question. Without additional constraints on how the ionization is achieved I believe that the answer is that it is just random. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Nov 19 '17 at 7:13
  • $\begingroup$ @MaxW, agreed... without the (bolded) polarization, it's not meaningful, but with that constraint, a user might learn from it. $\endgroup$ – DrMoishe Pippik Nov 19 '17 at 7:24
  • $\begingroup$ Hm, without an external field that gives orientation, the answer should be "can't tell", shouldn't it? Because if a single He atom is all the reference available, the photon doesn't even have a distinct polarisation. $\endgroup$ – Karl Nov 19 '17 at 9:50

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