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Title: Final Report for Project ``Theory of ultra-relativistic heavy-ion collisions''

In the course of this project the Ohio State University group led by the PI, Professor Ulrich Heinz, developed a comprehensive theoretical picture of the dynamical evolution of ultra-relativistic heavy-ion collisions and of the numerous experimental observables that can be used to diagnose the evolving and short-lived hot and dense fireball created in such collisions. Starting from a qualitative understanding of the main features based on earlier research during the last decade of the twentieth century on collisions at lower energies, the group exploited newly developed theoretical tools and the stream of new high-quality data from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory (which started operations in the summer of the year 2000) to arrive at an increasingly quantitative description of the experimentally observed phenomena. Work done at Ohio State University (OSU) was instrumental in the discovery during the years 2001-2003 that quark-gluon plasma (QGP) created in nuclear collisions at RHIC behaves like an almost perfect liquid with minimal viscosity. The tool of relativistic fluid dynamics for viscous liquids developed at OSU in the years 2005-2007 opened the possibility to quantitatively determine the value of the QGP viscosity empirically from experimental measurements of the collective flow patterns establishedmore » in the collisions. A first quantitative extraction of the QGP shear viscosity, with controlled theoretical uncertainty estimates, was achieved during the last year of this project in 2010. OSU has paved the way for a transition of the field of relativistic heavy-ion physics from a qualitative discovery stage to a new stage of quantitative precision in the description of quark-gluon plasma properties. To gain confidence in the precision of our theoretical understanding of quark-gluon plasma dynamics, one must test it on a large set of experimentally measured observables. This achievement report demonstrates that we have, at different times, systematically investigated both so-called ``soft" and ``hard, penetrating" probes of the fireball medium: hadron yields and momentum spectra and their anisotropies, two-particle momentum correlations, high-energy partons fragmenting into jets, heavy quarks and heavy-flavor mesons, and electromagnetic probes (photons and dileptons). Our strongest emphasis, and our most significant achievements, has, however, always remained on understanding the bulk behavior of the heavy-ion fireball medium, for which soft probes provide the most abundantly available data and thus the most stringent constraints.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Ohio State University Office of Sponsored Programs
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Physics (Nuclear Theory)
Country of Publication:
United States
73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS Nuclear Theory, Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collisions, Quark-Gluon Plasma, Relativistic Fluid Dynamics