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Chiral symmetry restoration at high matter density observed in pionic atoms

Nishi, Takahiro*; Hashimoto, Tadashi   ; 46 of others*

According to quantum chromodynamics, vacuum is not an empty space, because it is filled with quark-antiquark pairs. The pair has the same quantum numbers as the vacuum and forms a condensate because the strong interaction of the quantum chromodynamics is too strong to leave the vacuum empty. This quark-antiquark condensation, the chiral condensate, breaks the chiral symmetry of the vacuum. The expectation value of the chiral condensate is an order parameter of the chiral symmetry, which is expected to decrease at high temperatures or high matter densities where the chiral symmetry is partially restored. Head-on collisions of nuclei at ultra-relativistic energies have explored the high-temperature regime, but experiments at high densities are rare. Here we measure the spectrum of pionic $$^{121}$$Sn atoms and study the interaction between the pion and the nucleus. We find that the expectation value of the chiral condensate is reduced at finite density compared to the value in vacuum. The reduction is linearly extrapolated to the nuclear saturation density and indicates that the chiral symmetry is partially restored due to the extremely high density of the nucleus.



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Category:Physics, Multidisciplinary



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