Doe Science news source
The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2017-09-18 08:05:35
  • Article ID: 681254

New Evidence for Small, Short-Lived Drops of Early Universe Quark-Gluon Plasma?

Scientists reveal correlated flow of particles emerging from even the lowest-energy, small-scale collisions at Big-Bang particle collider

UPTON, NY—Particles emerging from even the lowest energy collisions of small deuterons with large heavy nuclei at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC)—a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility for nuclear physics research at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory—exhibit behavior scientists associate with the formation of a soup of quarks and gluons, the fundamental building blocks of nearly all visible matter. These results from RHIC’s PHENIX experiment suggest that these small-scale collisions might be producing tiny, short-lived specks of matter that mimics what the early universe was like nearly 14 billion years ago, just after the Big Bang.

Scientists built RHIC, in large part, to create this “quark-gluon plasma” (QGP) so they could study its properties and learn how Nature’s strongest force brings quarks and gluons together to form the protons, neutrons, and atoms that make up the visible universe today. But they initially expected to see signs of QGP only in highly energetic collisions of two heavy ions such as gold. The new findings—correlations in the way particles emerge from the collisions that are consistent with what physicists have observed in the more energetic large-ion collisions—add to a growing body of evidence from RHIC and Europe’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that QGP may be created in smaller systems as well.

The PHENIX collaboration has submitted the findings in two separate papers to the journals Physical Review Letters and Physical Review C, and will present these results at a meeting in Krakow, Poland this week.

“These are the first papers that come out of the 2016 deuteron-gold collisions, and this is one indication that we are probably creating QGP in small systems,” said Julia Velkovska, a deputy spokesperson for PHENIX from Vanderbilt University. “But there are other things that we have seen in the larger systems that we have yet to investigate in this new data. We’ll be looking for other evidence of QGP in the small systems using different ways to study the properties of the system we are creating,” she said.

Collective flow

One of the earliest signs that RHIC’s collisions of two gold ions were creating QGP came in the form of “collective flow” of particles.  More particles emerged from the “equator” of two semi-overlapping colliding ions than perpendicular to the collision direction. This elliptical flow pattern, scientists believe, is caused by interactions of the particles with the nearly “perfect”—meaning free-flowing—liquid-like QGP created in the collisions. Since then, collisions of smaller particles with heavy ions have resulted in similar flow patterns at both RHIC and the LHC, albeit on a smaller scale. There has also been evidence that flow patterns have a strong relationship with the geometrical shape of the projectile particle that is colliding with the larger nucleus.

“With these results in hand, we wanted to try smaller and smaller systems at different energies,” Velkovska said. “If you change the energy, you can change the time that the system stays in the liquid phase, and maybe make it disappear.”

In other words, they wanted to see if they could turn the creation of QGP off.

“After so many years we have learned that when QGP is created in the collisions we know how to recognize it, but that doesn’t mean we really understand how it works,” Velkovska said. “We are trying to understand how the perfect-fluid behavior emerges and evolves. What we are doing now—going down in energy, changing the size—is an effort to learn how this behavior arises in different conditions. RHIC is the only collider in the world that allows such a range of studies over different collision energies with different colliding particle species.”

Turing down the energy

Over a period of about five weeks in 2016, the PHENIX team explored collisions of deuterons (made of one proton and one neutron) with gold ions at four different energies (200, 62.4, 39, and 19.6 billion electron volts, or GeV). 

“Thanks to the versatility of RHIC and the ability of the staff in Brookhaven’s Collider-Accelerator Department to quickly switch and tune the machine for different collision energies, PHENIX was able to record more than 1.5 billion collisions in this short period of time,” Velkovska said. 

For the paper submitted to PRC, Darren McGlinchey, a PHENIX collaborator from Los Alamos National Laboratory, led an analysis of how particles emerged along the elliptical plane of the collisions as a function of their momentum, how central (fully overlapping) the collisions were, and how many particles were produced.

“Using a deuteron projectile produces a highly elliptical shape, and we observed a persistence of that initial geometry in the particles we detect, even at low energy,” McGlinchey said. Such shape persistence could be caused by interaction with a QGP created in these collisions. “This result is not sufficient evidence to declare that QGP exists, but it is a piece of mounting evidence for it,” he said.

Ron Belmont, a PHENIX collaborator from the University of Colorado, led an analysis of how the flow patterns of multiple particles (two and four particles at each energy and six at the highest energy) were correlated. Those results were submitted to PRL.

“We found a very similar pattern in both two- and four-particle correlations for all the different energies, and in six-particle correlations at the highest energy as well,” Belmont said.

“Both results are consistent that particle flow is observed down to lowest energy. So the two papers work together to paint a nice picture,” he added.

There are other possible explanations for the findings, including the postulated existence of another form of matter known as color glass condensate that is thought to be dominated by the presence of gluons within the heart of all visible matter.

“To distinguish color glass condensate from QGP, we need more detailed theoretical descriptions of what these things look like,” Belmont said.

Velkovska noted that many new students have been recruited to continue the analysis of existing data from the PHENIX experiment, which stopped taking data after the 2016 run to make way for a revamped detector known as sPHENIX.

“There is a lot more to come from PHENIX,” she said.

Research at RHIC is funded by the DOE Office of Science (NP) and by the agencies and institutions associated with PHENIX listed here.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

Follow @BrookhavenLab on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

X
X
X
  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Solutions to Water Challenges Reside at the Interface

Leading Argonne National Laboratory researcher Seth Darling describes the most advanced research innovations that could address global clean water accessibility.

New Cost-Effective Instrument Measures Molecular Dynamics on a Picosecond Timescale

Studying the photochemistry has shown that ultraviolet radiation can set off harmful chemical reactions in the human body and, alternatively, can provide "photo-protection" by dispersing extra energy. To better understand the dynamics of these photochemical processes, a group of scientists irradiated the RNA base uracil with ultraviolet light and documented its behavior on a picosecond timescale. They discuss their work this week in The Journal of Chemical Physics.

Exploding Waves from Colliding Dissipative Pulses

The interaction of traveling waves in dissipative systems, physical systems driven by energy dissipation, can yield unexpected and sometimes chaotic results. These waves, known as dissipative pulses are driving experimental studies in a variety of areas that involve matter and energy flows. In the journal Chaos, researchers discuss their work studying collisions between three types of DSs to determine what happens when these traveling waves interact.

Theorists Publish Highest-Precision Prediction of Muon Magnetic Anomaly

UPTON, NY--Theoretical physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Brookhaven National Laboratory and their collaborators have just released the most precise prediction of how subatomic particles called muons--heavy cousins of electrons--"wobble" off their path in a powerful magnetic field.

How Gold Nanoparticles Could Improve Solar Energy Storage

Star-shaped gold nanoparticles, coated with a semiconductor, can produce hydrogen from water over four times more efficiently than other methods - opening the door to improved storage of solar energy and other advances that could boost renewable energy use and combat climate change, according to Rutgers University-New Brunswick researchers.

National Ignition Facility Sets New Energy Record

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser system has set a new record, firing 2.15 megajoules (MJ) of energy to its target chamber - a 15 percent improvement over NIF's design specification of 1.8 MJ, and more than 10 percent higher than the previous 1.9 MJ energy record set in March 2012. Increasing NIF's energy limit will expand the parameter space for stockpile stewardship experiments and provide a significant boost to the pursuit of ignition.

Generating Electrical Power From Waste Heat

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories have developed a tiny silicon-based device that can harness what was previously called waste heat and turn it into DC power.

Extracting Signals of Elusive Particles from Giant Chambers Filled with Liquefied Argon

In two new papers, the MicroBooNE collaboration describes how they use this detector to pick up the telltale signs of neutrinos. The papers include details of the signal processing algorithms that are critical to accurately reconstruct neutrinos' subtle interactions with atoms in the detector.

SLAC's Ultra-High-Speed 'Electron Camera' Catches Molecules at a Crossroads

An extremely fast "electron camera" at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has produced the most detailed atomic movie of the decisive point where molecules hit by light can either stay intact or break apart. The results could lead to a better understanding of how molecules respond to light in processes that are crucial for life, like photosynthesis and vision, or that are potentially harmful, such as DNA damage from ultraviolet light.

Merging Antenna and Electronics Boosts Energy and Spectrum Efficiency

By integrating the design of antenna and electronics, researchers have boosted the energy and spectrum efficiency for a new class of millimeter wave transmitters, allowing improved modulation and reduced generation of waste heat. The result could be longer talk time and higher data rates in millimeter wave wireless communication devices for future 5G applications.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Two Stony Brook Researchers Receive Energy Frontier Research Center Awards Totaling $21.75M

Stony Brook University received notification from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that two proposals directed by SBU faculty to expand or develop Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) designed to accelerate scientific breakthroughs needed to strengthen U.S. economic leadership and energy security will receive funding totaling $21.75 million. The two Stony Brook EFRCs are the Center for Mesoscale Transport Properties (m2M), led by renowned energy storage researcher, Esther Takeuchi, PhD, which will receive a four-year $12 million grant for the existing center; and the creation of a new EFRC, A Next Generation Synthesis Center (GENESIS) led by John Parise, PhD, which will receive a four-year $9.75 million grant.

Seth Davidovits Wins 2018 Marshall N. Rosenbluth Dissertation Award

Article describes dissertation award won by Seth Davidovits.

DOE Launches New Lab Partnering Service

The U.S. Department of Energy officially launched the Lab Partnering Service (LPS), an on-line, single access point platform for investors, innovators, and institutions to identify, locate, and obtain information from DOE's 17 national laboratories.

Department of Energy Announces $75 Million for High Energy Physics Research

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $75 million in funding for 77 university research awards on a range of topics in high energy physics to advance knowledge of how the universe works at its most fundamental level.

Thesis Prize Winner's Calculations Characterize Neutrino Interactions

Alessandro Baroni is helping demystify one of the most mysterious particles. His work is contributing to our understanding of neutrinos, and it has earned him the 2017 Jefferson Science Associates Thesis Prize for work performed on a thesis related to research at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

10 Questions for Steven Cowley, New Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Steven Cowley, a theoretical physicist and international authority on fusion energy, became the seventh Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPon July 1 and will be Princeton professor of astrophysical sciences on September 1.

Ames Laboratory to lead new Center for Advancement of Topological Semimetals

Ames Laboratory will receive $10.75 million over four yearrs for a new Center for Advancement of Topological Semimetals as one of the Department of Energy's Energy Frontier Research Centers.

DOE Awards $100 Million for Energy Frontier Research Centers

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced $100 million in funding for 42 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to strengthen U.S. economic leadership and energy security.

Argonne welcomes <em>The Martian</em> author Andy Weir

Best-selling science fiction author Andy Weir visited Argonne to give a series of standing-room-only talks, inspiring students and scientists alike.

United States and Italy Sign Agreement to Collaborate on Sterile Neutrino Research

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Italian Embassy, on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, signed an agreement for collaboration on research with the international Short-Baseline Neutrino (SBN) program hosted at DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Tracking Down Helium-4's Quarks and Gluons

Scientists obtain the first exclusive measurement of deeply virtual Compton scattering of electrons off helium-4, vital to obtaining an unambiguous 3-D view of quarks and gluons within nuclei.

Predicting Magnetic Explosions: From Plasma Current Sheet Disruption to Fast Magnetic Reconnection

Supercomputer simulations and theoretical analysis shed new light on when and how fast reconnection occurs.

Is Nature Exclusively Left Handed? Using Chilled Atoms to Find Out

Elegant techniques of trapping and polarizing atoms open vistas for beta-decay tests of fundamental symmetries, key to understanding the most basic forces and particles constituting our universe.

As Future Batteries, Hybrid Supercapacitors Are Super-Charged

A new supercapacitor could be a competitive alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

Forever Young Catalyst Reduces Diesel Emissions

Atom probe tomography reveals key explanations for stable performance over a cutting-edge diesel-exhaust catalyst's lifetime.

Sense Like a Shark: Saltwater-Submersible Films

A nickelate thin film senses electric field changes analogous to the electroreception sensing organ in sharks, which detects the bioelectric fields of prey.

A Bit of Quantum Logic--What Did the Atom Say to the Quantum Dot?

Let's talk! Scientists demonstrate coherent coupling between a quantum dot and a donor atom in silicon, vital for moving information inside quantum computers.

New Tech Uses Isomeric Beams to Study How and Where the Galaxy Makes One of Its Most Common Elements

A new measurement using a beam of aluminum-26 prepared in a metastable state allows researchers to better understand the creation of the elements in our galaxy.

Simulations of Magnetically Confined Plasmas Reveal a Self-Regulating Stabilizing Mechanism

A mysterious mechanism that prevents instabilities may be similar to the process that maintains the Earth's magnetic field.

Seeing All the Colors of the Plasma Wind

2-D velocity imaging helps fusion researchers understand the role of ion winds (aka flows) in the boundary of tokamak plasmas.


Spotlight

Tuesday July 03, 2018, 11:05 AM

2018 RHIC & AGS Annual Users' Meeting: 'Illuminating the QCD Landscape'

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Friday June 29, 2018, 06:05 PM

Argonne welcomes The Martian author Andy Weir

Argonne National Laboratory

Monday June 18, 2018, 09:55 AM

Creating STEM Knowledge and Innovations to Solve Global Issues Like Water, Food, and Energy

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)

Friday June 15, 2018, 10:00 AM

Professor Emily Liu Receives $1.8 Million DoE Award for Solar Power Systems Research

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Thursday June 07, 2018, 03:05 PM

Celebrating 40 years of empowerment in science

Argonne National Laboratory

Monday May 07, 2018, 10:30 AM

Introducing Graduate Students Across the Globe to Photon Science

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Wednesday May 02, 2018, 04:05 PM

Students from Massachusetts and Washington Win DOE's 28th National Science Bowl(r)

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Thursday April 12, 2018, 07:05 PM

The Race for Young Scientific Minds

Argonne National Laboratory

Wednesday March 14, 2018, 02:05 PM

Q&A: Al Ashley Reflects on His Efforts to Diversify SLAC and Beyond

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday February 15, 2018, 12:05 PM

Insights on Innovation in Energy, Humanitarian Aid Highlight UVA Darden's Net Impact Week

University of Virginia Darden School of Business

Friday February 09, 2018, 11:05 AM

Ivy League Graduate, Writer and Activist with Dyslexia Visits CSUCI to Reframe the Concept of Learning Disabilities

California State University, Channel Islands

Wednesday January 17, 2018, 12:05 PM

Photographer Adam Nadel Selected as Fermilab's New Artist-in-Residence for 2018

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

Wednesday January 17, 2018, 12:05 PM

Fermilab Computing Partners with Argonne, Local Schools for Hour of Code

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

Wednesday December 20, 2017, 01:05 PM

Q&A: Sam Webb Teaches X-Ray Science from a Remote Classroom

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Monday December 18, 2017, 01:05 PM

The Future of Today's Electric Power Systems

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Monday December 18, 2017, 12:05 PM

Supporting the Development of Offshore Wind Power Plants

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Tuesday October 03, 2017, 01:05 PM

Stairway to Science

Argonne National Laboratory

Thursday September 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

After-School Energy Rush

Argonne National Laboratory

Thursday September 28, 2017, 10:05 AM

Bringing Diversity Into Computational Science Through Student Outreach

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Thursday September 21, 2017, 03:05 PM

From Science to Finance: SLAC Summer Interns Forge New Paths in STEM

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday September 07, 2017, 02:05 PM

Students Discuss 'Cosmic Opportunities' at 45th Annual SLAC Summer Institute

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday August 31, 2017, 05:05 PM

Binghamton University Opens $70 Million Smart Energy Building

Binghamton University, State University of New York

Wednesday August 23, 2017, 05:05 PM

Widening Horizons for High Schoolers with Code

Argonne National Laboratory

Saturday May 20, 2017, 12:05 PM

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduates Urged to Embrace Change at 211th Commencement

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Monday May 15, 2017, 01:05 PM

ORNL, University of Tennessee Launch New Doctoral Program in Data Science

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday April 07, 2017, 11:05 AM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jonathan Kirzner

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Wednesday April 05, 2017, 12:05 PM

High-Schooler Solves College-Level Security Puzzle From Argonne, Sparks Interest in Career

Argonne National Laboratory

Tuesday March 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jenica Jacobi

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Friday March 24, 2017, 10:40 AM

Great Neck South High School Wins Regional Science Bowl at Brookhaven Lab

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Wednesday February 15, 2017, 04:05 PM

Middle Schoolers Test Their Knowledge at Science Bowl Competition

Argonne National Laboratory

Friday January 27, 2017, 04:00 PM

Haslam Visits ORNL to Highlight State's Role in Discovering Tennessine

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Tuesday November 08, 2016, 12:05 PM

Internship Program Helps Foster Development of Future Nuclear Scientists

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday May 13, 2016, 04:05 PM

More Than 12,000 Explore Jefferson Lab During April 30 Open House

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Monday April 25, 2016, 05:05 PM

Giving Back to National Science Bowl

Ames Laboratory

Friday March 25, 2016, 12:05 PM

NMSU Undergrad Tackles 3D Particle Scattering Animations After Receiving JSA Research Assistantship

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Tuesday February 02, 2016, 10:05 AM

Shannon Greco: A Self-Described "STEM Education Zealot"

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Monday November 16, 2015, 04:05 PM

Rare Earths for Life: An 85th Birthday Visit with Mr. Rare Earth

Ames Laboratory

Tuesday October 20, 2015, 01:05 PM

Meet Robert Palomino: 'Give Everything a Shot!'

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tuesday April 22, 2014, 11:30 AM

University of Utah Makes Solar Accessible

University of Utah

Wednesday March 06, 2013, 03:40 PM

Student Innovator at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Seeks Brighter, Smarter, and More Efficient LEDs

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday November 16, 2012, 10:00 AM

Texas Tech Energy Commerce Students, Community Light up Tent City

Texas Tech University

Wednesday November 23, 2011, 10:45 AM

Don't Get 'Frosted' Over Heating Your Home This Winter

Temple University

Wednesday July 06, 2011, 06:00 PM

New Research Center To Tackle Critical Challenges Related to Aircraft Design, Wind Energy, Smart Buildings

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday April 22, 2011, 09:00 AM

First Polymer Solar-Thermal Device Heats Home, Saves Money

Wake Forest University

Friday April 15, 2011, 12:25 PM

Like Superman, American University Will Get Its Energy from the Sun

American University

Thursday February 10, 2011, 05:00 PM

ARRA Grant to Help Fund Seminary Building Green Roof

University of Chicago





Showing results

0-4 Of 2215