Double-ridge structure in p-Pb collisions

  • Posted on: 22 July 2014
The analysis of the data from the p-Pb collisions at the LHC revealed a completely unexpected double-ridge structure with so far unknown origin. The proton–lead (pPb) collisions in 2013, two years after its heavy-ion collisions opened a new chapter in exploration of the properties of the deconfined, chirally symmetrical state of the QGP.

A surprising near-side, long-range (elongated in pseudorapidity) correlation, forming a ridge-like structure observed in high-multiplicity pp collisions, was also found in high-multiplicity pPb collisions, but with a much larger amplitude . However, the biggest surprise came from the observation that this near-side ridge is accompanied by an essentially symmetrical away-side ridge, opposite in azimuth. This double ridge was revealed after the short-range correlations arising from jet fragmentation and resonance decays were suppressed by subtracting the correlation distribution measured for low-multiplicity events from the one for high-multiplicity events.

Similar long-range structures in heavy-ion collisions have been attributed to the collective flow of particles emitted from a thermalized system undergoing a collective hydrodynamic expansion. This anisotropy can be characterized by means of the vn (n = 2, 3, ...) coefficients of a Fourier decomposition of the single-particle azimuthal distribution. To test the possible presence of collective phenomena further, the ALICE collaboration has extended the two-particle correlation analysis to identified particles, checking for a potential mass ordering of the v2 harmonic coefficients. Such an ordering in mass was observed in heavy-ion collisions, where it was interpreted to arise from a common radial boost – the so-called radial flow – coupled to the anisotropy in momentum space. Continuing the surprises, a clear particle-mass ordering, similar to the one observed in mid-central PbPb collisions (CERN Courier, September 2013), has been measured in high-multiplicity pPb collisions.

The final surprise, so far, comes from the charmonium states. Whereas J/ψ production does not reveal any unexpected behaviour, the production of the heavier and less-bound (2S) state indicates a strong suppression (0.5–0.7) with respect to J/ψ, when compared with pp collisions. Is this a hint of effects of the medium? Indeed, in heavy-ion collisions, such a suppression has been interpreted as a sequential melting of quarkonia states, depending on their binding energy and the temperature of the QGP created in these collisions.

The first pPb measurement campaign, expected results were widely accompanied by unanticipated observations. Among the expected results is the confirmation that proton–nucleus collisions provide an appropriate tool to study the partonic structure of cold nuclear matter in detail. The surprises have come from the similarity of several observables between pPb and PbPb collisions, which hint at the existence of collective phenomena in pPb collisions with high particle multiplicity and, eventually, the formation of QGP.