Experimental and theoretical challenges in the search for the quark-gluon plasma: The STAR Collaboration's critical assessment of the evidence from RHIC collisions

J. Adams, M. M. Aggarwal, Z. Ahammed, J. Amonett, B. D. Anderson, D. Arkhipkin, G. S. Averichev, S. K. Badyal, Y. Bai, J. Balewski, O. Barannikova, L. S. Barnby, J. Baudot, S. Bekele, V. V. Belaga, A. Bellingeri-Laurikainen, R. Bellwied, J. Berger, B. I. Bezverkhny, S. BharadwajA. Bhasin, A. K. Bhati, V. S. Bhatia, H. Bichsel, J. Bielcik, J. Bielcikova, A. Billmeier, L. C. Bland, C. O. Blyth, B. E. Bonner, M. Botje, A. Boucham, J. Bouchet, A. V. Brandin, A. Bravar, M. Bystersky, R. V. Cadman, X. Z. Cai, H. Caines, M. Calderón de la Barca Sánchez, J. Castillo, O. Catu, D. Cebra, Z. Chajecki, P. Chaloupka, S. Chattopadhyay, H. F. Chen, Y. Chen, J. Cheng, Michael G. Cherney, A. Chikanian, W. Christie, J. P. Coffin, T. M. Cormier, J. G. Cramer, H. J. Crawford, D. Das, S. Das, M. M. de Moura, T. G. Dedovich, A. A. Derevschikov, L. Didenko, T. Dietel, S. M. Dogra, W. J. Dong, X. Dong, J. E. Draper, F. Du, A. K. Dubey, V. B. Dunin, J. C. Dunlop, M. R. Dutta Mazumdar, V. Eckardt, W. R. Edwards, L. G. Efimov, V. Emelianov, J. Engelage, G. Eppley, B. Erazmus, M. Estienne, P. Fachini, J. Faivre, R. Fatemi, J. Fedorisin, K. Filimonov, P. Filip, E. Finch, V. Fine, Y. Fisyak, J. Fu, C. A. Gagliardi, L. Gaillard, J. Gans, M. S. Ganti, F. Geurts, V. Ghazikhanian, P. Ghosh, J. E. Gonzalez, H. Gos, O. Grachov, O. Grebenyuk, D. Grosnick, S. M. Guertin, Y. Guo, A. Gupta, T. D. Gutierrez, T. J. Hallman, A. Hamed, D. Hardtke, J. W. Harris, M. Heinz, T. W. Henry, S. Hepplemann, B. Hippolyte, A. Hirsch, E. Hjort, G. W. Hoffmann, H. Z. Huang, S. L. Huang, E. W. Hughes, T. J. Humanic, G. Igo, A. Ishihara, P. Jacobs, W. W. Jacobs, M. Jedynak, H. Jiang, P. G. Jones, E. G. Judd, S. Kabana, K. Kang, M. Kaplan, D. Keane, A. Kechechyan, V. Y. Khodyrev, J. Kiryluk, A. Kisiel, E. M. Kislov, J. Klay, S. R. Klein, D. D. Koetke, T. Kollegger, M. Kopytine, L. Kotchenda, M. Kramer, P. Kravtsov, V. I. Kravtsov, K. Krueger, C. Kuhn, A. I. Kulikov, A. Kumar, R. K. Kutuev, A. A. Kuznetsov, M. A C Lamont, J. M. Landgraf, S. Lange, F. Laue, J. Lauret, A. Lebedev, R. Lednicky, S. Lehocka, M. J. LeVine, C. Li, Q. Li, Y. Li, G. Lin, S. J. Lindenbaum, M. A. Lisa, F. Liu, H. Liu, L. Liu, Q. J. Lìu, Z. Liu, T. Ljubicic, W. J. Llope, H. Long, R. S. Longacre, M. Lopez-Noriega, W. A. Love, Y. Lu, T. Ludlam, D. Lynn, G. L. Ma, J. G. Ma, Y. G. Ma, D. Magestro, S. Mahajan, D. P. Mahapatra, R. Majka, L. K. Mangotra, R. Manweiler, S. Margetis, C. Markert, L. Martin, J. N. Marx, H. S. Matis, Yu A. Matulenko, C. J. McClain, T. S. McShane, F. Meissner, Yu Melnick, A. Meschanin, M. L. Miller, N. G. Minaev, C. Mironov, A. Mischke, D. K. Mishra, J. Mitchell, B. Mohanty, L. Molnar, C. F. Moore, D. A. Morozov, M. G. Munhoz, B. K. Nandi, S. K. Nayak, T. K. Nayak, J. M. Nelson, P. K. Netrakanti, V. A. Nikitin, L. V. Nogach, S. B. Nurushev, G. Odyniec, A. Ogawa, V. Okorokov, M. Oldenburg, D. Olson, S. K. Pal, A. I. Pavlinov, T. Pawlak, T. Peitzmann, V. Perevoztchikov, C. Perkins, W. Peryt, V. A. Petrov, S. C. Phatak, R. Picha, M. Planinic, J. Pluta, N. Porile, J. Porter, A. M. Poskanzer, M. Potekhin, E. Potrebenikova, B. V K S Potukuchi, D. Prindle, C. Pruneau, J. Putschke, G. Rakness, R. Raniwala, S. Raniwala, O. Ravel, R. L. Ray, S. V. Razin, D. Reichhold, J. G. Reid, J. Reinnarth, G. Renault, F. Retiere, A. Ridiger, H. G. Ritter, J. B. Roberts, O. V. Rogachevskiy, J. L. Romero, A. Rose, C. Roy, L. Ruan, M. Russcher, R. Sahoo, I. Sakrejda, S. Salur, J. Sandweiss, M. Sarsour, I. Savin, P. S. Sazhin, J. Schambach, R. P. Scharenberg, N. Schmitz, Janet E. Seger, P. Seyboth, E. Shahaliev, M. Shao, W. Shao, M. Sharma, W. Q. Shen, K. E. Shestermanov, S. S. Shimanskiy, E. Sichtermann, F. Simon, R. N. Singaraju, N. Smirnov, R. Snellings, G. Sood, P. Sorensen, J. Sowinski, J. Speltz, H. M. Spinka, B. Srivastava, A. Stadnik, T. D S Stanislaus, R. Stock, A. Stolpovsky, M. Strikhanov, B. Stringfellow, A. A P Suaide, E. Sugarbaker, C. Suire, M. Sumbera, B. Surrow, M. Swanger, T. J M Symons, A. Szanto de Toledo, A. Tai, J. Takahashi, A. H. Tang, T. Tarnowsky, D. Thein, J. H. Thomas, S. Timoshenko, M. Tokarev, S. Trentalange, R. E. Tribble, O. D. Tsai, J. Ulery, T. Ullrich, D. G. Underwood, G. Van Buren, M. van Leeuwen, A. M. Vander Molen, R. Varma, I. M. Vasilevski, A. N. Vasiliev, R. Vernet, S. E. Vigdor, Y. P. Viyogi, S. Vokal, S. A. Voloshin, W. T. Waggoner, F. Wang, G. Wang, G. Wang, X. L. Wang, Y. Wang, Y. Wang, Z. M. Wang, H. Ward, J. W. Watson, J. C. Webb, G. D. Westfall, A. Wetzler, C. Whitten, G. Wieman, S. W. Wissink, R. Witt, J. Wood, J. Wu, N. Xu, Z. Xu, Z. Z. Xu, E. Yamamoto, P. Yepes, V. I. Yurevich, H. Zborovsky, H. Zhang, W. M. Zhang, Y. Zhang, Z. P. Zhang, R. Zoulkarneev, Y. Zoulkarneeva, A. N. Zubarev

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Abstract

We review the most important experimental results from the first three years of nucleus-nucleus collision studies at RHIC, with emphasis on results from the STAR experiment, and we assess their interpretation and comparison to theory. The theory-experiment comparison suggests that central Au + Au collisions at RHIC produce dense, rapidly thermalizing matter characterized by: (1) initial energy densities above the critical values predicted by lattice QCD for establishment of a quark-gluon plasma (QGP); (2) nearly ideal fluid flow, marked by constituent interactions of very short mean free path, established most probably at a stage preceding hadron formation; and (3) opacity to jets. Many of the observations are consistent with models incorporating QGP formation in the early collision stages, and have not found ready explanation in a hadronic framework. However, the measurements themselves do not yet establish unequivocal evidence for a transition to this new form of matter. The theoretical treatment of the collision evolution, despite impressive successes, invokes a suite of distinct models, degrees of freedom and assumptions of as yet unknown quantitative consequence. We pose a set of important open questions, and suggest additional measurements, at least some of which should be addressed in order to establish a compelling basis to conclude definitively that thermalized, deconfined quark-gluon matter has been produced at RHIC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-183
Number of pages82
JournalNuclear Physics A
Volume757
Issue number1-2 SPEC. ISS.
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 8 2005

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics

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