Physicists track the sequential "melting" of upsilons

Physicists observe the sequential “melting” of upsilons

Scientists used the STAR detector on the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) to comply with the dissociation of upsilon particles within the quark-gluon plasma. These upsilons encompass a backside quark and an antibottom quark held collectively by gluons with completely different binding energies: a tightly sure floor state (left), an intermediate selection (proper), and the most important state and essentially the most weakly sure (middle). Credit score: Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory

Scientists utilizing the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) to review a number of the hottest matter ever created in a lab have launched their first information displaying how three distinct variations of particles referred to as upsilons sequentially “soften” or dissociate in mud sizzling. The outcomes, which have simply been revealed in Bodily examination letterscome from the STAR detector at RHIC, one in every of two main particle-tracking experiments at this US Division of Vitality (DOE) Workplace of Science person facility for nuclear physics analysis.

The upsilon information provides additional proof that the quarks and gluons that make up the new matter generally known as quark-gluon plasma (QGP) are “deconfined”, or launched from their atypical existence locked inside different particles resembling protons and neutrons. The outcomes will assist scientists be taught extra concerning the properties of QGP, together with its temperature.

“By measuring the extent of upsilon suppression or dissociation, we are able to infer the properties of QGP,” mentioned Rongrong Ma, a physicist at DOE’s Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory, the place the RHIC is positioned, and coordinator of the evaluation. physics for the STAR collaboration. “We won’t inform precisely what the common QGP temperature relies on this metric alone, however this metric is a vital a part of a much bigger image. We’ll put this and different metrics collectively to higher perceive this distinctive type of matter.”

Launch quarks and gluons

Scientists are utilizing the RHIC, a 2.4 mile circumference ‘atom breaker’ to create and examine the QGP by accelerating and colliding two beams of atomic nuclei of gold ions stripped of their electrons at very excessive power. These energetic collisions can soften the proton and neutron boundaries of atoms, releasing the quarks and gluons inside.

One method to affirm that the collisions created the QGP is to search for proof that free quarks and gluons work together with different particles. Upsilons, short-lived particles consisting of a heavy quark-antiquark (background-anti-background) pair sure collectively, show to be excellent particles for this activity.

“The upsilon is a really strongly bounded state; it is laborious to interrupt it aside,” mentioned Zebo Tang, a STAR collaborator on the College of Science and Expertise of China. “However while you put it in a QGP, you may have so many quarks and gluons surrounding each the quark and the antiquark, that every one of these surrounding interactions compete with the upsilon’s personal quark-antiquark interplay.”

Within the presence of quark-gluon plasma (backside), free quarks and gluons can hinder the interplay between the underside quark and the antibottom quark which represent an upsilon. This screening of the quark-antiquark interplay causes the upsilon to dissociate or merge. The information reveals that the weakly sure upsilons soften essentially the most simply, whereas the tightly sure floor state melts the least. Credit score: Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory

These “screening” interactions can separate the upsilon, successfully melting it and eradicating the variety of upsilons that scientists depend.

“If quarks and gluons have been nonetheless confined inside particular person protons and neutrons, they may not take part within the competing interactions that break up quark-antiquark pairs,” Tang mentioned.

Upsilon Advantages

Scientists have noticed such suppression of different quark-antiquark particles within the QGP, particularly J/psi particles (consisting of a charm-antiquark pair). However upsilons differ from J/psi particles, in accordance with STAR scientists, for 2 predominant causes: their incapability to reform within the QGP and the truth that they arrive in three sorts.

Earlier than we get to reforming, let’s speak about how these particles type. Attraction and backside quarks and antiquarks are created very early in collisions even earlier than the QGP. Upon influence, when the kinetic power of the colliding gold ions settles right into a tiny area, it triggers the creation of many particles of matter and antimatter because the power transforms into mass by way of Einstein’s well-known equation, E = mc2. Quarks and antiquarks mix to type upsilons and J/psi particles, which might then work together with the newly shaped QGP.

However because it takes extra power to make heavier particles, there are various extra lighter attraction and anti-charm quarks than heavier backside and anti-bottom quarks within the particle soup. Which means that even after some J/psi particles have dissociated or “melted” into the QGP, others could proceed to type because the attraction and anti-charm quarks find yourself within the plasma. This reformation solely very not often happens with upsilons because of the relative shortage of backside and antibottom heavy quarks. So as soon as an upsilon dissociates, it’s gone.

“There simply aren’t sufficient bottom-antibottom quarks within the QGP to affiliate with,” mentioned Shuai Yang, a STAR collaborator from South China Regular College. “This makes upsilon counts very clear as their deletion shouldn’t be muddied by reformation just like the J/psi depend will be.”

Left: Brookhaven Lab physicist Rongrong Ma adjusts a cable on the Muon Telescope Detector (MTD) as STAR co-spokesperson Lijuan Ruan appears on. Proper: Ma and Ruan stand on the catwalk atop STAR, the place MTD modules encompass STAR’s house-sized middle magnet. Credit score: Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory

The opposite benefit of upsilons is that, in contrast to J/psi particles, they arrive in three varieties: a tightly sure floor state and two completely different excited states the place the quark-antiquark pairs are extra loosely sure. The extra tightly sure model needs to be the toughest to separate and soften at a better temperature.

“If we observe that the suppression ranges for the three varieties are completely different, possibly we are able to set up a spread for the QGP temperature,” Yang mentioned.

First measure

These outcomes mark the primary time that RHIC scientists have been capable of measure suppression for every of the three forms of upsilon.

They discovered the anticipated sample: least suppression/fusion for essentially the most tightly sure floor state; larger suppression for the intermediately sure state; and primarily no upsilons of essentially the most loosely sure state, that means that every one upsilons of the latter group could have been melted. (The scientists observe that the extent of uncertainty within the measurement of this most excited and weakly sure state was excessive.)

“We do not measure the upsilon immediately; it decays virtually instantaneously,” Yang defined. “As an alternative, we measure the breakdown of ‘ladies’.”

The staff checked out two “channels” of decay. A decay pathway results in electron-positron pairs, captured by STAR’s electromagnetic calorimeter. The opposite decay path, into optimistic and unfavourable muons, was tracked by the STAR Muon Telescope Detector.

This graph illustrates the relative abundance and the evolution of upsilon yields for every of the three varieties floor state (1s) and two completely different excited states (2s and 3s) within the absence of quark-gluon plasma (yellow bars) and in plasma (orange bars with QGP within the background). The absence of an upsilon yield for the 3s state in QGP implies that every one 3s upsilons could have dissociated. Credit score: Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory

In both case, reconstruction of the momentum and mass of the decay daughters establishes whether or not the pair originated from an upsilon. And for the reason that various kinds of upsilons have completely different lots, the scientists have been capable of inform the three sorts aside.

“That is essentially the most anticipated consequence from the Telescope Muon Detector,” mentioned Lijuan Ruan, Brookhaven Lab physicist, co-spokesperson for STAR and mission supervisor for the Telescope Muon Detector. This element was particularly proposed and constructed for the aim of monitoring upsilons, with planning going again to 2005, development starting in 2010, and full set up in time for the 2014 RHIC cycle, the information supply, with 2016, for this evaluation.

“It was a really troublesome measurement,” Ma mentioned. “This paper principally declares the success of the STAR muon telescope detection program. We’ll proceed to make use of this detector element over the subsequent few years to gather extra information to to scale back our uncertainties about these outcomes.

Extra information assortment over the subsequent few years of STAR operation, in addition to RHIC’s latest detector, sPHENIX, ought to present a clearer image of QGP. sPHENIX was constructed to trace upsilons and different particles product of heavy quarks as one in every of its predominant functions.

“We look ahead to how the brand new information to be collected over the subsequent few years will fill in our image of the QGP,” Ma mentioned.

Extra info:
Measurement of sequential suppression in Au + Au collisions at sNN = 200 GeV with the STAR experiment, Bodily examination letters (2023). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.130.112301. … ysRevLett.130.112301

Journal info:
Bodily examination letters

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