7 Jul/20
16:30 - 18:00 (Africa/Abidjan)

ASP Online Seminars: “Relativistic Heavy Ion Physics” (1)

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Meeting ID: 951 9356 7359


Relativistic Heavy Ion Physics

Author: Rachid Nouicer, Brookhaven National Laboratory


At the heart of each atom, there is a nucleus consisting of distinct
nucleons (protons and neutrons). In turn, these nucleons consist of
quarks bound together by the strong interaction, mediated by the
exchange of gluons. Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) is considered the
fundamental theory for such strong interactions. QCD predicts that
this force confines the quarks into composite particles (hadrons) at
ordinary temperatures or densities.  However, when the temperature
reaches the QCD energy scale (T of the order of 10^12 Kelvin) or its
density rises to the point where the average inter-quark separation is
less than 1 fermi, hadronic matter under these extremely dense and hot
conditions undergoes a phase transition to form a Quark Gluon Plasma
(QGP) in which quarks and gluons are no longer are confined to the
size of a hadron. Knowing the exact nature of quark confinement in
hadrons is crucial, and yet this remains a poorly understood aspect of
the quark-gluon description of matter.

Relativistic heavy ion physics is of international and
interdisciplinary interest to nuclear physics, particle physics,
astrophysics, condensed matter physics and cosmology. The primary goal
of this field of research is to recreate in the laboratory, under
conditions of extreme density and high temperature, this new state of
matter, the quark-gluon plasma (QGP), which is predicted by QCD to
have existed ten millionths of a second after the Big Bang (origin of
the Universe) and may exist in the cores of very dense stars.

These lectures provide an introduction to the ultrarelativistic heavy
ion collisions, including physics observable and results, the status
of collider accelerators and detectors, and the opportunities for
students to participate in this physics research.