Measurements of charged pion and kaon production in central Pb+Pb collisions at 40, 80 and 158 AGeV are presented. These are compared with data at lower and higher energies as well as with results from p+p interactions. The mean pion multiplicity per wounded nucleon increases approximately linearly with s_NN^1/4 with a change of slope starting in the region 15-40 AGeV. The change from pion suppression with respect to p+p interactions, as observed at low collision energies, to pion enhancement at high energies occurs at about 40 AGeV. A non-monotonic energy dependence of the ratio of K^+ to pi^+ yields is observed, with a maximum close to 40 AGeV and an indication of a nearly constant value at higher energies.The measured dependences may be related to an increase of the entropy production and a decrease of the strangeness to entropy ratio in central Pb+Pb collisions in the low SPS energy range, which is consistent with the hypothesis that a transient state of deconfined matter is created above these energies. Other interpretations of the data are also discussed.
In high-energy collisions, the spatio-temporal size of the particle production region can be measured using the Bose–Einstein correlations of identical bosons at low relative momentum. The source radii are typically extracted using two-pion correlations, and characterize the system at the last stage of interaction, called kinetic freeze-out. In low-multiplicity collisions, unlike in high-multiplicity collisions, two-pion correlations are substantially altered by background correlations, e.g. mini-jets. Such correlations can be suppressed using three-pion cumulant correlations. We present the first measurements of the size of the system at freeze-out extracted from three-pion cumulant correlations in pp, p–Pb and Pb–Pb collisions at the LHC with ALICE. At similar multiplicity, the invariant radii extracted in p–Pb collisions are found to be 5–15% larger than those in pp, while those in Pb–Pb are 35–55% larger than those in p–Pb. Our measurements disfavor models which incorporate substantially stronger collective expansion in p–Pb as compared to pp collisions at similar multiplicity.
Results on charged pion and kaon production in central Pb+Pb collisions at 20A and 30A GeV are presented and compared to data at lower and higher energies. A rapid change of the energy dependence is observed around 30A GeV for the yields of pions and kaons as well as for the shape of the transverse mass spectra. The change is compatible with the prediction that the threshold for production of a state of deconfined matter at the early stage of the collisions is located at low SPS energies.
Three- and four-pion Bose-Einstein correlations are presented in pp,p-Pb, and Pb-Pb collisions at the LHC. We compare our measured four-pion correlations to the expectation derived from two- and three-pion measurements. Such a comparison provides a method to search for coherent pion emission. We also present mixed-charge correlations in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of several analysis procedures such as Coulomb corrections. Same-charge four-pion correlations in pp and p-Pb appear consistent with the expectations from three-pion measurements. However, the presence of non-negligible background correlations in both systems prevent a conclusive statement. In Pb-Pb collisions, we observe a significant suppression of three- and four-pion Bose-Einstein correlations compared to expectations from two-pion measurements. There appears to be no centrality dependence of the suppression within the 0%–50% centrality interval. The origin of the suppression is not clear. However, by postulating either coherent pion emission or large multibody Coulomb effects, the suppression may be explained.