High density matter at RHIC
QCD predicts a phase transition between hadronic matter and a quark-gluon plasma at high energy density. The relativistic heavy ion collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory is a new facility dedicated to the experimental study of matter under extreme conditions. Already the first round of experimental results at RHIC indicated that the conditions to create a new state of matter are indeed reached in the collisions of heavy nuclei. Studies of particle spectra and their correlations at low transverse momenta provide evidence of strong pressure gradients in the highly interacting dense medium and hint that we observe a system in thermal equilibrium. Recent runs with high statistics allow us to explore the regime of hard-scattering processes where the suppression of hadrons at large transverse momentum, and quenching of di-jets are observed thus providing further evidence for extreme high density matter created in collisions at RHIC.
Volume 93 | Issue 5
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