Quark gluon solenoid

Physics 3, s83
Theorists gain insight into how the quark-gluon plasma distinguishes left from right.

An intriguing phenomenon to emerge recently out of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory is the evidence of local parity violation in quantum chromodynamics (QCD).

Parity violation manifests itself in measurements of electrical charge correlations in the quark-gluon plasma (QGP), which show a directional dependence in their coupling to the magnetic field generated during the collisions. Understanding this novel phenomenon, whose conceptual basis is yet to be found, has been the focus of several recent exciting theoretical studies.

Writing in Physical Review Letters, Gökçe Başar and Gerald Dunne from the University of Connecticut, in collaboration with Dmitri Kharzeev at Brookhaven National Laboratory, both in the US, propose a potential explanation of the parity violation through the spontaneous generation of topologically nontrivial configurations of gluons. The presence of the topological configurations can lead to a local imbalance between quarks of left and right chiralities, resulting in a current with spiral modulations along the direction of the external magnetic field. In the article, the focus is on an extreme limit of this scenario where the computation simplifies dramatically, allowing the authors to extract insightful analytical results—a rarity in the study of a system as complex as the QGP.

This elegant proposal is likely to inspire further exciting studies into the role of topological effects in QGP in particular and QCD in general. – Abhishek Agarwal

Subject Areas

Particles and FieldsNuclear Physics

Related Articles

One Field to Rule Them All

One Field to Rule Them All

Theorists explain why cosmic inflation might appear to be driven by a single inflaton field, even if it had actually been driven by two or more such fields. Read More »

Adding Certainty to Plutonium’s Fission Yield
Nuclear Physics

Adding Certainty to Plutonium’s Fission Yield

A first-of-its-kind measurement reveals the energy spectrum of the neutrons produced during the fission of plutonium, a common nuclear fuel component. Read More »

Colorful Primordial Black Holes

Colorful Primordial Black Holes

Some ultralight black holes that formed soon after the big bang might have been exotic objects with a net “color charge” that left potentially observable signatures. Read More »

More Articles