Hadronic signatures of deconfinement in relativistic nuclear collisions

J. Rafelski, J. Letessier, A. Tounsi

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16 Scopus citations


We describe the remarkable accomplishments of the current heavy ion Pb-Pb collision experiments involving strange particle production, carried out at 158A GeV at CERN-SPS. Together with earlier 200A GeV S-induced reactions, these results imply that, at central rapidity, a novel mechanism of strangeness production arises, accompanied by excess entropy formation. We argue that: • these results are consistent with the formation of a space-time localized, highly excited, dense state of matter; • the freeze-out properties of strange hadrons are suggestive of the formation of a color-deconfined, thermally and nearly chemically equilibrated phase, which provides at present the only comprehensive framework to describe all experimental data; • the matter fireball is undergoing a transverse expansion with nearly the velocity of sound of relativistic matter; longitudinal expansion is not in the scaling regime. We present a first analysis of the recent Pb-Pb results and discuss several alternative reaction scenarios. We evaluate quantitatively strangeness production in the deconfined quark-gluon phase and obtain yields in agreement with the experimental observations made in 200A GeV S-W and 158A GeV Pb-Pb interactions. We also present a qualitative discussion of J/ψ results consistent with our understanding of strange particle results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2841-2872
Number of pages32
JournalActa Physica Polonica B
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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