New Directions in High Energy Nuclear Physics
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Among the four fundamental forces in nature the strong nuclear force stands out for being the least understood one. It drives many processes in the universe that are crucial for our existence. One particularly important aspect of the strong nuclear force is the existence of quark gluon plasma. If ordinary matter is heated up to temperatures of about 1,000,000,000,000 degrees, hotter than the core of the sun, atoms and molecules cease to exist and even protons and neutrons inside atomic nuclei melt. The remaining primordial soup of quarks and gluons filled the very early universe. We can recreate quark gluon plasma in our largest particle colliders by smashing heavy nuclei into each other. Experimental programs at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in the USA study the properties of quark gluon plasma. This project will support research that will improve our understanding of the formation and properties of quark gluon plasma in nuclear collisions. The PI and his collaborators will use computer simulations and advanced statistical methods to reach this goal. Funding is provided to support training for a graduate students and junior scientists in nuclear science.Quark gluon plasma in nuclear collisions emerges from the highly complex gluon fields that are initially created in nuclear collisions. The PI and his group will investigate these fields and their properties by studying how angular momentum of the droplets of quark gluon plasma is related to the initial angular momentum of the colliding nuclei. The same gluon fields will also be studied through their interaction with fast quarks. The PI and his group will be able to use the JETSCAPE framework for large scale computational simulations of nuclear collisions. They will study various aspects of jets and heavy quarks being quenched in quark gluon plasma. They will then extract properties of quark gluon plasma using multiple constraints. For example, the strength of quenching of quarks and heavy quarks, and the viscosity of quark gluon plasma can be independently measured and are mutually related. Testing these relations will be an important step towards a deeper understanding of the dynamics of quark gluon plasma. The PI and his group will also use advanced statistical methods and machine learning applied to data to understand the mechanisms of hadron formation from quarks and gluons. These results will be used to improve the state-of-the-art modeling of the hadronization process that is a crucial input to many calculations.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.