Unveiling the strong interaction among hadrons at the LHC

The ALICE collaboration
Nature 588 (2020) 232-238, 2020.

Abstract (data abstract)
One of the big challenges for nuclear physics today is to understand, starting from first principles, the effective interaction between hadrons with different quark content. First successes have been achieved utilizing techniques to solve the dynamics of quarks and gluons on discrete space-time lattices. Experimentally, the dynamics of the strong interaction have been studied by scattering hadrons off each other. Such scattering experiments are difficult or impossible for unstable hadrons and hence, high quality measurements exist only for hadrons containing up and down quarks. In this work, we demonstrate that measuring correlations in the momentum space between hadron pairs produced in ultrarelativistic proton--proton collisions at the CERN LHC provides a precise method to obtain the missing information on the interaction dynamics between any pair of unstable hadrons. Specifically, we discuss the case of the interaction of baryons containing strange quarks (hyperons). We demonstrate for the first time how, using precision measurements of p--$\Omega^{-}$ correlations, the effect of the strong interaction for this hadron-hadron pair can be studied and compared with predictions from lattice calculations.

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