Evidence of a QCD critical endpoint at RHIC

21/06/2011

ResearchBlogging.org

A critical endpoint in QCD is a kind of holy grail in nuclear physics. It has been theorized as a point where deconfinement occurs and hadronic matter leaves place to some kind of plasma of quarks and gluons. We know that the breaking of chiral symmetry is something that people has proposed several years ago and we recently gave a proof of existence of such a transition (see here). But here the situation is more complex: We have essentially two physical variables to describe the phase diagram and these are temperature and chemical potential. This makes lattice computations a kind of nightmare. The reason is the sign problem. Some years ago Zoltan Fodor and Sandor Katz come out with a pioneering paper (see here) doing lattice computation and seeing the chemical potential taking an imaginary factor: The infamous sign problem. Discretization implies it but a theoretical physicist can happily lives just ignoring it. Fodor and Katz evaded the problem just taking an absolute value but this approach was criticized casting doubt on their results at chemical potential different from zero. It should be said that they gave evidence of existence for the critical point and surely their results are unquestionably correct with zero chemical potential in close agreement with my and others findings. A lucid statement of the problems of lattice computations for finite temperatures and densities was recently given by Philippe de Forcrand (see here).

So far, people has produced several results just working around with phenomenological model like a Nambu-Jona-Lasinio or sigma model. This way of work arises from our current impossibility to manage QCD at very low energies but, on the other side, we are well aware that these models seem to represent reality quite well. The reason is that a Nambu-Jona-Lasinio is really the low-energy limit for QCD but I will not discuss this matter here having done this before (see here). Besides, the sigma model arises naturally in the low-energy limit interacting with quarks. The sigma field is a true physical field that drives the phase transitions in low-energy QCD.

While the hunt for the critical point in the lattice realm is already open since the paper by Fodor and Katz, the experimental side is somewhat more difficult to exploit. The only facility we have at our disposal is RHIC and no much proposals are known to identify the critical point from the experimental data were available since a fine proposal by Misha Stephanov a few years ago (see here and here). The idea runs as follows.  At the critical point, fluctuations are no more expected to be Gaussian and all the correlations are extended to all the hadronic matter  as the correlation length is diverging. Non-Gaussianity implies that if we compute cumulants, linked to higher order moments of the probability distribution, these will depend on the correlation length with some power and, particularly, moments like skewness and kurtosis, that are a measure of deviation from Gaussianity, start to change. Particularly, kurtosis is expected to change sign. So, if we are able to measure such a deviation in a laboratory facility we are done and we get evidence for a critical point and critical behavior of hadronic matter. We just note that Stephanov accomplishes his computations using a sigma model and this is a really brilliant hindsight.

At RHIC a first evidence of this has been obtained by STAR Collaboration (see here). These are preliminary results but further data are expected this year. The main result is given in the following figureWe see comparison with data from lattice as red balls for Au+Au collisions and the kurtosis goes down to negative values! The agreement with lattice data is striking and this is already evidence for a critical endpoint. But this is not enough as can be seen from the large error bar. Indeed further data are needed to draw a definitive conclusion and, as said, these are expected for this year. Anyhow, this is already a shocking result. Surely, we stay tuned for this mounting evidence of a critical endpoint. This will represent a major discovery for nuclear physics and, in some way, it will make easier lattice computations with a proper understanding of the way the sign problem should be settled.

Marco Frasca (2011). Chiral symmetry in the low-energy limit of QCD at finite temperature arXiv arXiv: 1105.5274v2

Z. Fodor, & S. D. Katz (2001). Lattice determination of the critical point of QCD at finite T and  \mu JHEP 0203 (2002) 014 arXiv: hep-lat/0106002v2

Philippe de Forcrand (2010). Simulating QCD at finite density PoS (LAT2009)010, 2009 arXiv: 1005.0539v2

M. A. Stephanov (2008). Non-Gaussian fluctuations near the QCD critical point Phys.Rev.Lett.102:032301,2009 arXiv: 0809.3450v1

Christiana Athanasiou, Krishna Rajagopal, & Misha Stephanov (2010). Using Higher Moments of Fluctuations and their Ratios in the Search for
the QCD Critical Point Physical review D arXiv: 1006.4636v2

Xiaofeng Luo (2011). Probing the QCD Critical Point with Higher Moments of Net-proton
Multiplicity Distributions arXiv arXiv: 1106.2926v1


Back from Paris

13/06/2011

ResearchBlogging.org

It is several days that I have no more posted on the blog but for a very good reason: I was in Paris for the Eleventh Workshop on Non-Perturbative Quantum Chromodynamics (see here). It has been a beautiful chance to see Paris with the eyes of a tourist and being immersed in a lot of physics in the area I am currently contributing. The conference was held at the Institut d’Astrophyisique de Paris. This week was indeed plenty of information for people in high-energy physics due to the release by D0 of their measurements on the Wjj data, showing that the almost 5 sigma bump of CDF was not there (see here, here and here). In the conference there has been room for talks by experimentalists too and it was the most shocking part as I will explain below.

The talks were somehow interesting with a couple of days mostly dedicated to AdS/CFT approach for QCD. So, string theory got a lot of space even if I should say that more promising approaches seem to exist. The first day there have been a couple of talks that were very near my interest by Dario Zappalà and Marco Ruggieri. They were reporting on their very recent papers (here and here). With Marco, I spent all the week together while with Dario we have had a nice dinner near Latin Quartier. The question Dario presented was about the existence of massive excitations (let me say “persistence”) also beyond the critical temperature for Yang-Mills theory. We discussed together with Marco this result and Marco claimed that massive excitations should have melted beyond the critical temperature while my view is that the residual of mass should be due to temperature corrections to the mass spectrum of the theory. Marco in his talk presented the idea of measuring the chiral chemical potential on the lattice as this could give plain evidence of existence for the critical endpoint without the annoying sign problem. A proof of existence of the critical endpoint is somehow the Holy Grail of finite temperature QCD and something under a lot of studies both theoretically and on the lattice. So, Marco’s proposal can turn out a significant shortcut toward the reaching of this goal.

The second day Carl Bender gave a very beautiful talk telling us about PT invariant quantum mechanics. PT stays for Parity and Time reversal. The point to start from is the Dirac postulate about the Hamiltonian being Hermitian self-adjoint. Differently from the other postualates of quantum mechanics, this one is too much a mathematical requirement and one could ask if can be made somewhat looser. The paradigm Hamiltonian has the from H=p^2+ix^3. The answer is yes of course and we were left with the doubt that maybe this is the proper formulation of quantum mechanics rather the standard one. I suspect that this could represent a possible technique useful in quantum gravity studies.

I have already said of the two days on string theory. I have just noticed the talk by Luca Mazzucato showing how, with his approach, my scaling with \lambda^\frac{1}{4} for the energy spectrum could be recovered in a strong coupling expansion being \lambda the ‘t Hooft coupling. Unfortunately, Gabriele Veneziano could not partecipate.

On Wednesday there was the most shocking declaration from an experimentalist: “We do not understand the proton”. The reason for this arises from the results presented by people from CERN working at LHC. They showed a systematic deviation of their Montecarlo simulations from experimental data. This means for us, working in this area, that their modeling of low-energy QCD is bad and their possible estimation of the background unsure. There is no way currently to get an exact evaluation of the proton scattering section. I am somewhat surprised by this as so far, as I have always pointed out in this blog, at least the structure of the gluon propagator at low energies should be known exactly from the lattice. So, modeling the proton in such Montecarlo models should be a mitigated issue. This does not seem to be so and these different communities do not seem to talk each other at all. After these shocking news, the evening we took an excellent social dinner and I have had some fine discussions with foreigners colleagues that were well aware of the books from Umberto Eco. One of these, Karl Landsteiner, suggested us to visit the Pantheon to look at the Foucault pendulum. I, Marco Ruggieri and Orlando Oliveira took this initiative the next day and it was a very nice place to visit. If you are a physicist you can understand the emotion of being there seeing that sphere moving like Newton’s equations demand and inexorably proving the rotation of the Earth. Karl gave an interesting talk that day where AdS/CFT is used to obtain transport coefficients in heavy ion collisions.

In the same day, Orlando Oliveira gave his talk. Orlando is a friend of mine and gave relevant contribution to our understanding of the behavior of low-energy gluon propagator. He has been the author of one of the papers that, at Regensburg on 2007, started the end of the so called “scaling solution” for the gluon propagator (see here). Orlando is going ahead, starting from the acquired form of the gluon propagator, to understand low-energy phenomenology of nuclear forces. In this work, he and his colleagues introduce an octect of scalar fields having the aim to produce the gluon mass through a non-zero vacuum expectation value (see here) producing chiral symmetry breaking. My work and that of Orlando are somewhat overlapped in the initial part where we have an identical understanding of the low-energy behavior of  Yang-Mills theory.

On Friday, there have been a couple of significant events. The first one was my talk. This is a report on my recent paper. I will not discuss this point further leaving this material to your judgement. The second relevant event was given in the talks by Thierry Grandou and our Chairman and Organizer Herbert Fried. The relevant paper is here. While Grandou made a more mathematical introduction with a true important result: the resummation of all gluon exchange diagrams realizing some dream of having completely solved QCD, Fried provided a more concrete result giving the binding potential between quarks analytically obtained from the preceding theorem. We were somehow astonished by this that seems just a small step away from the Millenium prize. Berndt Mueller, one of the Organizers, suggested to Fried to determine the mass gap and wait a couple of years to get the prize. Indeed, this appears a true striking exact result in the realm of QCD.

All in all, an interesting conference in a special place: Paris. For me, it has been a very nice period of full immersion in physics with the company of very nice friends.

Update: Mary Ann Rotondo put online the slides of the talks (see here).

P. Castorina, V. Greco, D. Jaccarino, & D. Zappalà (2011). A reanalysis of Finite Temperature SU(N) Gauge Theory arXiv arXiv: 1105.5902v1

Marco Ruggieri (2011). The Critical End Point of Quantum Chromodynamics Detected by Chirally
Imbalanced Quark Matter arXiv arXiv: 1103.6186v1

Irene Amado, Karl Landsteiner, & Francisco Pena-Benitez (2011). Anomalous transport coefficients from Kubo formulas in Holography JHEP 05 (2011) 081 arXiv: 1102.4577v3

O. Oliveira, W. de Paula, & T. Frederico (2011). Linking Dynamical Gluon Mass to Chiral Symmetry Breaking via a QCD Low
Energy Effective Field Theory arXiv arXiv: 1105.4899v1

Marco Frasca (2011). Chiral symmetry in the low-energy limit of QCD at finite temperature arXiv arXiv: 1105.5274v2

H. M. Fried, Y. Gabellini, T. Grandou, & Y. -M. Sheu (2009). Gauge Invariant Summation of All QCD Virtual Gluon Exchanges Eur.Phys.J.C65:395-411,2010 arXiv: 0903.2644v2


CDF bump at 4.8 sigma!

01/06/2011

ResearchBlogging.org

In these days I am exceeding with exclamation marks but let me say that there are sound reasons for this. I will keep on staying on a prudence line as my more renowned colleagues are doing but there is a talk by Giovanni Punzi, the spokesman of CDF Collaboration at Tevatron, (see here), presenting the following picture


They increased the number of events and the bump is still there. They have consistently found 147\pm 5 GeV for the mass of this presumed particle. Of course, we have to wait for D0 and LHC to confirm this finding but this is becoming more and more a real discovery. But since the first inception, theoretical physicists have come out with possible explanations, the most reasonable of these seems a new U(1) interaction with Z’ leptophobic boson, where leptophobic just means that this particle has essentially strong decay modes. People at CDF has discarded several possible mundane explanations that emerged at the dawn of the first announcement but, as my readers know, it should be stated that our current understanding of low-energy QCD is somewhat in development and some modeling used by people at CERN or Tevatron can be not so accurate. My personal view is that is time to wait yet notwithstanding the good news.

For more relevant posts see here, here and here.

Kingman Cheung, & Jeonghyeon Song (2011). Baryonic Z’ Explanation for the CDF Wjj Excess arXiv arXiv: 1104.1375v3


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