We developed an adiabatic theory for cold anisotropic collisions between slow atoms and cold molecules. It enables us to investigate the importance of the couplings between the projection states of the rotational motion of the atom about the molecular axis of the diatom. We tested our theory using the recent results from the Penning ionization reaction experiment 4He(1s2s3S) + HD(1s2) → 4He(1s2) + HD+(1s) + e [Lavert-Ofir et al., Nat. Chem. 6, 332 (2014)] and demonstrated that the couplings have strong effect on positions of shape resonances. The theory we derived provides cross sections which are in a very good agreement with the experimental findings.

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