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REVTEX, 27 pages incl. 10 figures and 3 tables; Phys. Rev. C (in press) Journal-ref: Phys.Rev. C62 (2000) 064906. We study the local equilibrium in the central V = 125 fm3 cell in heavy-ion collisions at energies from 10.7 A GeV (AGS) to 160 A GeV (SPS) calculated in the microscopic transport model. In the present paper the hadron yields and energy spectra in the cell are compared with those of infinite nuclear matter, as calculated within the same model. The agreement between the spectra in the two systems is established for times t >= 10 fm/c in the central cell. The cell results do not deviate noticeably from the infinite matter calculations with rising incident energy, in contrast to the apparent discrepancy with predictions of the statistical model (SM) of an ideal hadron gas. The entropy of this state is found to be very close to the maximum entropy, while hadron abundances and energy spectra differ significantly from those of the SM.

We investigate hadron production as well as transverse hadron spectra from proton-proton, proton-nucleus and nucleus-nucleus collisions from 2 A·GeV to 21.3 A·TeV within two independent transport approaches (HSD and UrQMD) that are based on quark, diquark, string and hadronic degrees of freedom. The comparison to experimental data on transverse mass spectra from pp, pA and C+C (or Si+Si) reactions shows the reliability of the transport models for light systems. For central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions at bombarding energies above ~5 A·GeV, furthermore, the measured K± transverse mass spectra have a larger inverse slope parameter than expected from the default calculations. We investigate various scenarios to explore their potential effects on the K± spectra. In particular the initial state Cronin effect is found to play a substantial role at top SPS and RHIC energies. However, the maximum in the K+/..+ ratio at 20 to 30 A·GeV is missed by 40% and the approximately constant slope of the K± spectra at SPS energies is not reproduced either. Our systematic analysis suggests that the additional pressure - as expected from lattice QCD calculations at finite quark chemical potential µq and temperature T- should be generated by strong interactions in the early pre-hadronic/partonic phase of central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions.

We investigate hadron production and transverse hadron spectra in nucleus-nucleus collisions from 2 A·GeV to 21.3 A·TeV within two independent transport approaches (UrQMD and HSD) based on quark, diquark, string and hadronic degrees of freedom. The enhancement of pion production in central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions relative to scaled pp collisions (the ’kink’) is described well by both approaches without involving a phase transition. However, the maximum in the K+ p+ ratio at 20 to 30 A·GeV (the ’horn’) is missed by ~ 40%. Also, at energies above ~5 A·GeV, the measured K± mT-spectra have a larger inverse slope than expected from the models. Thus the pressure generated by hadronic interactions in the transport models at high energies is too low. This finding suggests that the additional pressure - as expected from lattice QCD at finite quark chemical potential and temperature - might be generated by strong interactions in the early pre-hadronic/partonic phase of central heavy-ion collisions. Finally, we discuss the emergence of density perturbations in a first-order phase transition and why they might affect relative hadron multiplicities, collective flow, and hadron mean-free paths at decoupling. A minimum in the collective flow v2 excitation function was discovered experimentally at 40 A·GeV - such a behavior has been predicted long ago as signature for a first order phase transition.

We investigate hadron production as well as transverse hadron spectra in nucleus-nucleus collisions from 2 A.GeV to 21.3 A.TeV within two independent transport approaches (UrQMD and HSD) that are based on quark, diquark, string and hadronic degrees of freedom. The comparison to experimental data demonstrates that both approaches agree quite well with each other and with the experimental data on hadron production. The enhancement of pion production in central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions relative to scaled pp collisions (the 'kink') is well described by both approaches without involving any phase transition. However, the maximum in the K+/Pi+ ratio at 20 to 30 A.GeV (the 'horn') is missed by ~ 40%. A comparison to the transverse mass spectra from pp and C+C (or Si+Si) reactions shows the reliability of the transport models for light systems. For central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions at bombarding energies above ~ 5 A.GeV, however, the measured K +/- m-theta-spectra have a larger inverse slope parameter than expected from the calculations. The approximately constant slope of K+/-spectra at SPS (the 'step') is not reproduced either. Thus the pressure generated by hadronic interactions in the transport models above ~ 5 A.GeV is lower than observed in the experimental data. This finding suggests that the additional pressure - as expected from lattice QCD calculations at finite quark chemical potential and temperature - might be generated by strong interactions in the early pre-hadronic/partonic phase of central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions.

Report-no: UFTP-492/1999 Journal-ref: Phys.Rev. C61 (2000) 024909 We investigate flow in semi-peripheral nuclear collisions at AGS and SPS energies within macroscopic as well as microscopic transport models. The hot and dense zone assumes the shape of an ellipsoid which is tilted by an angle Theta with respect to the beam axis. If matter is close to the softest point of the equation of state, this ellipsoid expands predominantly orthogonal to the direction given by Theta. This antiflow component is responsible for the previously predicted reduction of the directed transverse momentum around the softest point of the equation of state.

To be published in J. Phys. G - Proceedings of SQM 2004 : We review the results from the various hydrodynamical and transport models on the collective flow observables from AGS to RHIC energies. A critical discussion of the present status of the CERN experiments on hadron collective flow is given. We emphasize the importance of the flow excitation function from 1 to 50 A.GeV: here the hydrodynamic model has predicted the collapse of the v2-flow ~ 10 A.GeV; at 40 A.GeV it has been recently observed by the NA49 collaboration. Since hadronic rescattering models predict much larger flow than observed at this energy we interpret this observation as evidence for a first order phase transition at high baryon density r b. Moreover, the connection of the elliptic flow v2 to jet suppression is examined. It is proven experimentally that the collective flow is not faked by minijet fragmentation. Additionally, detailed transport studies show that the away-side jet suppression can only partially (< 50%) be due to hadronic rescattering. Furthermore, the change in sign of v1, v2 closer to beam rapidity is related to the occurence of a high density first order phase transition in the RHIC data at 62.5, 130 and 200 A.GeV.

Invited talk at the International Workshop XXX on Gross Properties of Nuclei and Nuclear Excitations - Ultrarelativistic Heavy-Ion Collisions, Jan. 13-19, 2002, Hirschegg, Austria. Report-no: LBNL-49674. We discuss predictions for the pion and kaon interferometry measurements in relativistic heavy ion collisions at SPS and RHIC energies. In particular, we confront relativistic transport model calculations that include explicitly a first-order phase transition from a thermalized quark-gluon plasma to a hadron gas with recent data from the RHIC experiments. We critically examine the "HBT-puzzle" both from the theoretical as well as from the experimental point of view. Alternative scenarios are briefly explained.

Invited talk at the XXXIII International Symposium on Multiparticle Dynamics, Krakow, Poland, 5-11 Sept, 2003. 5 pages, 1 figure Journal-ref: Acta Phys.Polon. B35 (2004) 23-28. We review the recent developments on microscopic transport calculations for two-particle correlations at low relative momenta in ultrarelativistic heavy ion collisions at RHIC.

We calculate the kaon HBT radius parameters for high energy heavy ion collisions, assuming a first order phase transition from a thermalized Quark-Gluon-Plasma to a gas of hadrons. At high transverse momenta K_T ~ 1 GeV/c direct emission from the phase boundary becomes important, the emission duration signal, i.e., the R_out/R_side ratio, and its sensitivity to T_c (and thus to the latent heat of the phase transition) are enlarged. Moreover, the QGP+hadronic rescattering transport model calculations do not yield unusual large radii (R_i<9fm). Finite momentum resolution effects have a strong impact on the extracted HBT parameters (R_i and lambda) as well as on the ratio R_out/R_side.