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

Scientists Solve a Magnesium Mystery in Rechargeable Battery Performance

A Berkeley Lab-led research team has discovered a surprising set of chemical reactions involving magnesium that degrade battery performance even before the battery can be charged up. The findings could steer the design of next-gen batteries.

Researchers Customize Catalysts to Boost Product Yields, Decrease Chemical Separation Costs

For some crystalline catalysts, what you see on the surface is not always what you get in the bulk, according to two studies led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Innovative Design Using Loops of Liquid Metal Can Improve Future Fusion Power Plants, Scientists Say

Article describes proposed design for production of steady-state plasma in future fusion power plants.

Scientists Create Most Powerful Micro-Scale Bio-Solar Cell Yet

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York have created a micro-scale biological solar cell that generates a higher power density for longer than any existing cell of its kind.

ESnet's Science DMZ Design Could Help Transfer, Protect Medical Research Data

As medicine becomes more data-intensive, Berkeley Lab & ESnet's Medical Science DMZ eyed as secure solution for transferring data

Breakthrough Cuttable, Flexible, Submersible and Ballistic-Tested Lithium-ion Battery Offers New Paradigm of Safety and Performance

Breakthrough Cuttable, Flexible, Submersible and Ballistic-Tested Lithium-ion Battery Offers New Paradigm of Safety and Performance

Chemical Treatment Improves Quantum Dot Lasers

One of the secrets to making tiny laser devices such as opthalmic surgery scalpels work even more efficiently is the use of tiny semiconductor particles, called quantum dots. In new research at Los Alamos National Laboratory's Nanotech Team, the ~nanometer-sized dots are being doctored, or "doped," with additional electrons, a treatment that nudges the dots ever closer to producing the desired laser light with less stimulation and energy loss.

Neutrons Observe Vitamin B6-Dependent Enzyme Activity Useful for Drug Development

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have performed neutron structural analysis of a vitamin B6-dependent protein, potentially opening avenues for new antibiotics and drugs to battle diseases such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and diabetes. Specifically, the team used neutron crystallography to study the location of hydrogen atoms in aspartate aminotransferase, or AAT, an enzyme vital to the metabolism of certain amino acids.

Scientists Decode the Origin of Universe's Heavy Elements in the Light From a Neutron Star Merger

On Aug. 17, scientists around the globe were treated to near-simultaneous observations by separate instruments that would ultimately be confirmed as the first measurement of the merger of two neutron stars and its explosive aftermath.

PPPL Takes Detailed Look at 2-D Structure of Turbulence in Tokamaks

Article describes study of cross-correlation of turbulence in tokamaks.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Department of Energy Awards Flow Into Argonne

DOE Secretary Rick Perry awarded Argonne with nearly $4.7 million in projects as part of the DOE's Office of Technology Transition's Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) in September.

NIH Awards $6.5 Million to Berkeley Lab for Augmenting Structural Biology Research Experience

The NIH has awarded $6.5 million to Berkeley Lab to integrate existing synchrotron structural biology resources to better serve researchers. The grant will establish a center based at the Lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS) called ALS-ENABLE that will guide users through the most appropriate routes for answering their specific biological questions.

LIGO Announces Detection of Gravitational Waves From Colliding Neutron Stars

The U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and the Virgo detector in Italy announced on Oct. 16 that all three of their detectors had picked up the ripples, or gravitational waves, from two neutron stars that collided 130 million years ago. Among other discoveries, the detection allowed scientists to use gravitational waves to directly calculate the rate at which the universe is expanding.

WVU Energy Conference to Address State's Economic Opportunities

West Virginia University will look at the state's emerging energy economy through industry experts, public policy organizations, environmental groups and academic institutions at the sixth annual National Energy Conference Oct. 20.

Exploring the Exotic World of Quarks and Gluons at the Dawn of the Exascale

As nuclear physicists delve ever deeper into the heart of matter, they require the tools to reveal the next layer of nature's secrets. Nowhere is that more true than in computational nuclear physics. A new research effort led by theorists at DOE's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) is now preparing for the next big leap forward in their studies thanks to funding under the 2017 SciDAC Awards for Computational Nuclear Physics.

Matthew Latimer Receives 2017 Lytle Award

A staff member at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Acceleratory Laboratory, Matthew Latimer is in charge of seven spectroscopy beamlines at SSRL. He was recently selected for the 2017 Farrel W. Lytle Award, established by the SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee. The award promotes accomplishments in synchrotron science and supports collaboration among visiting scientists and staff who conduct research at SSRL.

Jefferson Lab Completes 12 GeV Upgrade

Nuclear physicists are now poised to embark on a new journey of discovery into the fundamental building blocks of the nucleus of the atom. The completion of the 12 GeV Upgrade Project of the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) heralds this new era to image nuclei at their deepest level.

Sunderrajan to Lead Science and Technology Partnerships and Outreach Directorate

Suresh Sunderrajan has been named the associate laboratory director (ALD) for the Science and Technology Partnerships and Outreach (STPO) Directorate at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.

Career Awards Advance Research for Jefferson Lab Researchers

Two researchers affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility have received 2017 Early Career Research Program awards from the DOE's Office of Science.

U.S. Department of Energy Awards Danforth Center $16M to Enhance Sorghum for Bioenergy

This project aims to deliver stress-tolerant sorghum lines, addressing DOE's mission in the generation of renewable energy resources.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Discovering the Genetic Timekeepers in Bioenergy Crops

A new class of plant-specific genes required for flowering control in temperate grasses is found.

New Technology Illuminates Microbial Dark Matter

Demonstrating the microfluidic-based, mini-metagenomics approach on samples from hot springs shows how scientists can delve into microbes that can't be cultivated in a laboratory.

Tiny Green Algae Reveal Large Genomic Variation

First complete picture of genetic variations in a natural algal population could help explain how environmental changes affect global carbon cycles.

A Complex Little Alga that Lives by the Sea

The genetic material of Porphyra umbilicalis reveals the mechanisms by which it thrives in the stressful intertidal zone at the edge of the ocean.

Precise Radioactivity Measurements: A Controversy Settled

Simultaneous measurements of x-rays and gamma rays emitted in radioactive nuclear decays show that the vacancy left by an electron's departure, not the atomic structure, influences whether gamma rays are released.

OLYMPUS Experiment Sheds Light on Inner Workings of Protons

Seven-year study explains how packets of light are exchanged when protons meet electrons.

Explorations of the Universal Glue

The newly upgraded CEBAF Accelerator opens door to strong force studies.

Understanding the Rice Genome for Bioenergy Research

Genome-wide rice studies yield first major, large-scale collection of mutations for grass model crops, vital to boosting biofuel production.

Bringing Visual "Magic" to Light

Scientists create widely controllable ultrathin optical components that allow virtual objects to be projected in real environments.

Speeding Materials Discovery Puts Solar Fuels on the Fast Track to Commercial Viability

In just two years, a process that was developed by Molecular Foundry staff and users has nearly doubled the number of materials with the potential for using sunlight to produce fuel.


Spotlight

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

Tuesday December 07, 2010, 05:00 PM

UC San Diego Installing 2.8 Megawatt Fuel Cell to Anchor Energy Innovation Park

University of California San Diego

Monday November 01, 2010, 12:50 PM

Rensselaer Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center Announces First Deployment of New Technology on Campus

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday September 10, 2010, 12:40 PM

Ithaca College Will Host Regional Clean Energy Summit

Ithaca College

Tuesday July 27, 2010, 10:30 AM

Texas Governor Announces $8.4 Million Award to Create Renewable Energy Institute

Texas Tech University

Friday May 07, 2010, 04:20 PM

Creighton University to Offer New Alternative Energy Program

Creighton University

Wednesday May 05, 2010, 09:30 AM

National Engineering Program Seeks Subject Matter Experts in Energy

JETS Junior Engineering Technical Society

Wednesday April 21, 2010, 12:30 PM

Students Using Solar Power To Create Sustainable Solutions for Haiti, Peru

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday March 03, 2010, 07:00 PM

Helping Hydrogen: Student Inventor Tackles Challenge of Hydrogen Storage

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Thursday February 04, 2010, 02:00 PM

Turning Exercise into Electricity

Furman University

Thursday November 12, 2009, 12:45 PM

Campus Leaders Showing the Way to a Sustainable, Clean Energy Future

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Tuesday November 03, 2009, 04:20 PM

Furman University Receives $2.5 Million DOE Grant for Geothermal Project

Furman University

Thursday September 17, 2009, 02:45 PM

Could Sorghum Become a Significant Alternative Fuel Source?

Salisbury University

Wednesday September 16, 2009, 11:15 AM

Students Navigating the Hudson River With Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday September 16, 2009, 10:00 AM

College Presidents Flock to D.C., Urge Senate to Pass Clean Energy Bill

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Wednesday July 01, 2009, 04:15 PM

Northeastern Announces New Professional Master's in Energy Systems

Northeastern University

Friday October 12, 2007, 09:35 AM

Kansas Rural Schools To Receive Wind Turbines

Kansas State University

Thursday August 17, 2006, 05:30 PM

High Gas Prices Here to Stay, Says Engineering Professor

Rowan University





Showing results

0-4 Of 2215