Quark Gluon Plasma

At Brookhaven National Laboratory, gold nuclei are accelerated and collided head-on at extremely high energies using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). MSU experimenters (Gary Westfall) working at the STAR experiment at RHIC have observed a new form of matter produced in these reactions, a strongly interacting quark gluon plasma (sQGP), which is the form in which the universe is thought to have existed a few microseconds after the Big Bang. This sQGP has the unique property of having a very small viscosity, making it a nearly perfect liquid (Pawel Danielewicz). Central to the study of the sQGP is understanding of the origin and interaction of the many thousands of charged particles produced in these reactions (Scott Pratt) that carry the signature of the violent collision history and the production of the sQGP.