1932

Abstract

The quark–gluon plasma (QGP) produced by collisions between ultrarelativistic heavy nuclei is well described in the language of hydrodynamics. Noncentral collisions are characterized by very large angular momentum, which in a fluid system manifests as flow vorticity. This rotational structure can lead to a spin polarization of the hadrons that eventually emerge from the plasma, and thus these collisions provide experimental access to flow substructure at unprecedented detail. Recently, the first observations of Λ hyperon polarization along the direction of collisional angular momentum were reported. These measurements are in broad agreement with hydrodynamic and transport-based calculations and reveal that the QGP is the most vortical fluid ever observed. However, there remain important tensions between theory and observation that might be fundamental in nature. In the relatively mature field of heavy-ion physics, the discovery of global hyperon polarization and 3D simulations of the collision have opened an entirely new direction of research. We discuss the current status of this rapidly developing area and directions for future research.

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2020-10-19
2024-06-14
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