- heavy-ion physics (1) (remove)
- Azimuthal correlations of high-pT photons and hadrons in Au+Au collisions at STAR (2006)
- Nuclear matter, that takes the form of protons and neutrons under normal conditions, is subject to a phase transition at high temperatures and densities, liberating the quarks and gluons that are usually confined in nucleons and creating a medium of free partons: the Quark-Gluon-Plasma. It is generally believed that this state of matter can be created in relativistic collisions of heavy nuclei. The study of the medium created in these collisions is the subject of heavy-ion physics. One topic within this field are particles with high transverse momentum, that are created in initial hard collisions between partons of the incoming nuclei. The energetic partons lose energy due to interactions with the medium before they fragment into a jet of hadrons. Due to momentum conservation, these jets are usually created as back-to-back pairs, or less commonly as three-jet or photon-jet events, where a single jet is balanced by a hard photon. The energy loss can be measured using correlations between particles with high transverse momenta. A trigger particle is selected with very high transversemomentum and the distribution of the azimuthal angle of associated particles in the same event is studied, relative to the azimuth of the trigger particle.These azimuthal correlations show a peak for opening angles around 0 from particles selected from the same jet, and a second peak at opening angles around 180 degrees from back-to-back di-jets. Random combinations with the underlying event generate a flat background, extending over the full range of opening angles. The STAR experiment observed a modification of these correlations in central Au+Au collisions, where trigger particles with 4GeV < pT(trigger) < 6GeV and associated particles with 2GeV < pT(trigger) < 4GeV were selected. A strong suppression has been observed for away-side correlations in central Au+Au collisions, relative to p+p, d+Au and peripheral Au+Au data. This can be explained by assuming two partons going in opposite directions, where at least one has to travel a large distance through the medium, causing energy loss and effectively removing the event from the analysis. For near-side correlations, no significant modification has been observed, which can be explained by surface emission, assuming that the observed jets have travelled only a short distance in themedium, not leaving enough time for interactions with the medium. Both trigger- and associated particles in a correlation analysis with charged hadrons are subject to modifications due to the medium. This can be avoided by using photon-jet events instead of di-jets, because the photon does not interact with the medium and therefore provides the best available measure of the properties of the opposite jet in the presence of the underlying event. This thesis studies azimuthal correlations between regions of high energy deposition in the electro-magnetic calorimeter as trigger- and charged tracks as associated particles. The data sample had been enriched by online event selection, allowing for the selection of trigger particles with a transverse energy of more than 10GeV and associated particles with more than 2,3 or 4 GeV. The away-side yield per trigger particle is strongly suppressed like in correlations between charged particles. The near-side yield is also reduced by about a factor two, clearly different from charged correlations. The trigger particles are a mixture of photon pairs from the decays of neutral pions and single photons, mainly from photon-jet events, with small contributions from other hadron decays and fragmentation photons. Pythia simulations predict a ratio of neutral pions to prompt photons of 3.5:1 in p+p collisions with the same cuts as in the presented analysis. Single particle suppression further reduces this ratio in central Au_Au collisions, down to about 0.8:1, indicating that the majority of trigger particles in central Au+Au collisions are prompt photons. The increasing fraction of prompt photon triggers without an accompanying jet and therefore zero associated yield reduces the average yield per trigger particle. The magnitude of the observed effect agrees well with the expectation from Pythia simulations and the assumption of a single particle suppression by a factor 4-5. An analysis of away-side correlations is more difficult, because both photon-jet and di-jet events contribute. The aim is the separation of these two contributions. As a clear separation is not possible with the available dataset, a comparison with two different scenarios is given, where a surprisingly small suppression by only a factor of about 5 is favoured for both dijet- and photon-jet-correlations. A separate measurement of both contributions will be possible by a shower-shape analysis with the EM calorimeter or a comparison with charged correlations in the same kinematic region.