Wayne State University Part of $4M Grant to Continue Studying High Energy Nuclear Physics

A study led by physicists and computer scientists at Detroit’s Wayne State University and other institutions received a renewal grant of more than $4 million from the National Science Foundation to continue studying elements of high energy nuclear physics.
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Jetscape simulation capture
WSU researchers are studying high energy nuclear physics thanks to a $4 million renewal grant from the National Science Foundation. Pictured is a simulation capture from the Jetscape software. // Image courtesy of Wayne State Universtiy

A study led by physicists and computer scientists at Detroit’s Wayne State University and other institutions received a renewal grant of more than $4 million from the National Science Foundation to continue studying elements of high energy nuclear physics.

The team of researchers from 13 institutions is working to create an open-source statistical and computational software to help scientists better understand high energy nuclear collisions in a project called the Jetscape collaboration. The renewed grant will be awarded over four years.

According to the research team, microseconds after the Big Bang, the temperature of the universe was more than several trillion degrees Celsius. At this temperature, protons and neutrons, which make up atoms, melt into a plasma of quarks (subatomic particles with fractional charges) and gluons (subatomic particles thought to bind quarks together) called a Quark-Gluon Plasma.

The exact internal structure and interactions within this plasma still is unknown. Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva (CERN) are seeking answers by colliding large nuclei such as lead at extreme energies. The goal is to achieve the compression necessary to produce exploding droplets of this state of matter.

The Jetscape collaboration aims to better understand the dynamics of these collisions and the plasma with computer simulations, where a variety of theoretical models can be explored in statistical comparisons with experimental data.

“This renewal will allow the Jetscape tool to broaden and evolve into a much more elaborate simulator (which we refer to as X-SCAPE), which could be applied to a variety of future experiments, such as at FAIR in Germany and the Electron-Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Lab,” says Abhijit Majumder, a WSU physics professor, lead investigator, and an experts in the development of theoretical techniques for understanding the dynamics of high-energy nuclear collisions. “This will bring all high energy nuclear experiments under a single simulation umbrella, allowing for a cross-pollination of ideas between different experiments.”

The other researchers, who are physicists, computer scientists, and statisticians, are from UC Berkeley, Brookhaven National Lab, Duke, Kent State, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, MIT, McGill, Oak Ridge National Lab., Ohio State, Tennessee, and Texas A and M.

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