Vector mesons in strongly interacting matter
Properties of hadrons in strongly interacting matter provide a link between quantum chromodynamics in the strong coupling regime and experimental observables. QCD sum rules show that changes in chiral and higher-order condensates, partially associated with a restoration of chiral symmetry in the nuclear medium, will lead to significant changes in the low-energy spectrum of hadrons. Heavy-ion collisions and reactions with elementary probes have been used to extract experimental information on in-medium properties of hadrons. Results on the light vector mesons $\rho$, $\omega$, and $\phi$, are summarized and compared. Almost all experiments report a softening of the spectral functions with increases in width depending on the density and temperature of the hadronic environment. No evidence for mass shifts is found in majority of the experiments. Remaining inconsistencies among experimental results demonstrate the need for further measurements with higher statistics and inrceased acceptance in particular for low-momentum vector mesons.