Examination of coalescence as the origin of nuclei in hadronic collisions

Francesca Bellini, Kfir Blum, Alexander Phillip Kalweit, Maximiliano Puccio

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The origin of weakly bound nuclear clusters in hadronic collisions is a key question to be addressed by heavy-ion collision (HIC) experiments. The measured yields of clusters are approximately consistent with expectations from phenomenological statistical hadronization models (SHMs), but a theoretical understanding of the dynamics of cluster formation prior to kinetic freeze-out is lacking. The competing model is nuclear coalescence, which attributes cluster formation to the effect of final state interactions (FSI) during the propagation of the nuclei from kinetic freeze-out to the observer. This phenomenon is closely related to the effect of FSI in imprinting femtoscopic correlations between continuum pairs of particles at small relative momentum difference. We give a concise theoretical derivation of the coalescence-correlation relation, predicting nuclear cluster spectra from femtoscopic measurements. We review the fact that coalescence derives from a relativistic Bethe-Salpeter equation, and recall how effective quantum mechanics controls the dynamics of cluster particles that are nonrelativistic in the cluster center-of-mass frame. We demonstrate that the coalescence-correlation relation is roughly consistent with the observed cluster spectra in systems ranging from PbPb to pPb and pp collisions. Paying special attention to nuclear wave functions, we derive the coalescence prediction for the hypertriton and show that it, too, is roughly consistent with the data. Our work motivates a combined experimental programme addressing femtoscopy and cluster production under a unified framework. Upcoming pp, pPb, and peripheral PbPb data analyzed within such a program could stringently test coalescence as the origin of clusters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number014907
Number of pages19
JournalPhysical Review C
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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