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We derive the collision term in the Boltzmann equation using the equation of motion for the Wigner function of massive spin-1/2 particles. To next-to-lowest order in h, it contains a nonlocal contribution, which is responsible for the conversion of orbital into spin angular momentum. In a proper choice of pseudogauge, the antisymmetric part of the energy-momentum tensor arises solely from this nonlocal contribution. We show that the collision term vanishes in global equilibrium and that the spin potential is, then, equal to the thermal vorticity. In the nonrelativistic limit, the equations of motion for the energy-momentum and spin tensors reduce to the well-known form for hydrodynamics for micropolar fluids.

The relativistic treatment of spin is a fundamental subject which has an old history. In various physical contexts it is necessary to separate the relativistic total angular momentum into an orbital and spin contribution. However, such decomposition is affected by ambiguities since one can always redefine the orbital and spin part through the so-called pseudo-gauge transformations. We analyze this problem in detail by discussing the most common choices of energy-momentum and spin tensors with an emphasis on their physical implications, and study the spin vector which is a pseudo-gauge invariant operator. We review the angular momentum decomposition as a crucial ingredient for the formulation of relativistic spin hydrodynamics and quantum kinetic theory with a focus on relativistic nuclear collisions, where spin physics has recently attracted significant attention. Furthermore, we point out the connection between pseudo-gauge transformations and the different definitions of the relativistic center of inertia. Finally, we consider the Einstein–Cartan theory, an extension of conventional general relativity, which allows for a natural definition of the spin tensor.

Virtual photon polarization and dilepton anisotropy in relativistic nucleus–nucleus collisions
(2018)

The polarization of virtual photons produced in relativistic nucleus–nucleus collisions provides information on the conditions in the emitting medium. In a hydrodynamic framework, the resulting angular anisotropy of the dilepton final state depends on the flow as well as on the transverse momentum and invariant mass of the photon. We illustrate these effects in dilepton production from quark–antiquark annihilation in the QGP phase and π+π− annihilation in the hadronic phase for a static medium in global equilibrium and for a longitudinally expanding system.

It is shown that the description of a relativistic fluid at local thermodynamic equilibrium depends on the particular quantum stress-energy tensor operator chosen, e.g., the canonical or symmetrized Belinfante stress-energy tensor. We argue that the Belinfante tensor is not appropriate to describe a relativistic fluid whose macroscopic polarization relaxes slowly to thermodynamic equilibrium and that a spin tensor, like the canonical spin tensor, is required. As a consequence, the description of a polarized relativistic fluid involves an extension of relativistic hydrodynamics including a new antisymmetric rank-two tensor as a dynamical field. We show that the canonical and Belinfante tensors lead to different predictions for measurable quantities such as spectrum and polarization of particles produced in relativistic heavy-ion collisions.

A newly proposed framework of perfect-fluid relativistic hydrodynamics for particles with spin 1/2 is briefly reviewed. The hydrodynamic equations follow entirely from the conservation laws for energy, momentum, and angular momentum. The incorporation of the angular-momentum conservation requires that the spin polarization tensor ωμν is introduced. It plays a role of a Lagrange multiplier conjugated to the spin tensor Sλ,μν. The space-time evolution of the spin polarization tensor depends on the specific form chosen for the spin tensor.

Hadronic polarization and the related anisotropy of the dilepton angular distribution are studied for the reaction πN→Ne+e−. We employ consistent effective interactions for baryon resonances up to spin-5/2, where non-physical degrees of freedom are eliminated, to compute the anisotropy coefficients for isolated intermediate baryon resonances. It is shown that the spin and parity of the intermediate baryon resonance is reflected in the angular dependence of the anisotropy coefficient. We then compute the anisotropy coefficient including the N(1520) and N(1440) resonances, which are essential at the collision energy of the recent data obtained by the HADES Collaboration on this reaction. We conclude that the anisotropy coefficient provides useful constraints for unraveling the resonance contributions to this process.