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Creation of quark-gluon plasma droplets with three distinct geometries

Aidala, C.*; Hasegawa, Shoichi  ; Imai, Kenichi; Sako, Hiroyuki  ; Sato, Susumu ; Tanida, Kiyoshi  ; PHENIX Collaboration*; 312 of others*

Experimental studies of the collisions of heavy nuclei at relativistic energies have established the properties of the quark-gluon plasma (QGP), a state of hot, dense nuclear matter in which quarks and gluons are not bound into hadrons. In this state, matter behaves as a nearly inviscid fluid that efficiently translates initial spatial anisotropies into correlated momentum anisotropies among the particles produced, creating a common velocity field pattern known as collective flow. In recent years, comparable momentum anisotropies have been measured in small-system proton-proton and proton-nucleus (p+A) collisions, despite expectations that the volume and lifetime of the medium produced would be too small to form a QGP. Here we report on the observation of elliptic and triangular flow patterns of charged particles produced in proton-gold (p+Au), deuteron-gold (d+Au) and helium-gold ($$^{3}$$He+Au) collisions at a nucleon-nucleon centre-of-mass energy $$sqrt{s_{{mathrm{NN}}}}$$ = 200 GeV. The unique combination of three distinct initial geometries and two flow patterns provides unprecedented model discrimination. Hydrodynamical models, which include the formation of a short-lived QGP droplet, provide the best simultaneous description of these measurements.

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Category:Physics, Multidisciplinary

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