skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Studies in High Energy Heavy Ion Nuclear Physics

This close-out report covers the period 1994 - 2015 for DOE grant DE-FG02-94ER40845 with the University of Texas at Austin. The research was concerned with studies of the strong nuclear force and properties of nuclear matter under extreme conditions of temperature and density which far exceed that in atomic nuclei. Such extreme conditions are briefly created (for about 10 trillionths of a trillionth of a second) during head-on collisions of large atomic nuclei (e.g. gold) colliding at speeds very close to the speed-of-light. The collisions produce thousands of subatomic particles, many of which are detected in our experiment called STAR at the Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider at the Brookhaven National Lab in New York. The goal of our research is to learn how the strong nuclear force and its fundamental particles (quarks and gluons) behave in extreme conditions similar to that of the early Universe when it was about 1 micro-second old, and in the cores of very dense neutron stars. To learn anything new about the matter which exists for such a very short amount of time requires carefully designed probes. In our research we focused on two such probes, one being short-lived resonance particles and the other using correlationsmore » between pairs of the detected particles. Resonances are short-lived particles created in the collision, which interact with the surrounding matter, and which break apart, or "decay" into more stable particles which survive long enough to be seen in our detectors. The dependence of resonance properties on the conditions in the collision system permit tests of theoretical models and improve our understanding. Dynamical interactions in the matter also leave imprints on the final, outgoing particle distributions measured in the experiment. In particular, angular correlations between pairs of particles can be related to the fundamental strong force as it behaves in the hot, dense matter. Studying correlations as a function of experimentally controlled conditions of the collisions provides another test of theory. Our results provide unambiguous evidence that the briefly existing hot, dense matter has strong effects on the measurements and indicate that the matter is best described in terms of the fundamental quarks and gluons, that its internal interactions are surprisingly strong, and that new and never before seen strong interaction processes are occurring which remain to be explained theoretically. To enable these studies our group has also made substantial contributions to the detection capabilities of the STAR experiment. These contributions were to the electronics required to "read out" the weak electrical signals from the detectors and transfer the raw data to offline computers for processing. Although this experimental program is now concluded the resonance and correlation results we have extracted from the raw collision data will continue to challenge and perhaps guide theoretical developments of the strong nuclear force for many years to come.« less
 [1] ;  [1]
  1. Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Nuclear Physics (NP) (SC-26)
Country of Publication:
United States
73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS Heavy Ion Physics; High Energy Nuclear Physics