A Texas A&M University-led consortium has been awarded a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to support a new Topical Theory Collaboration tasked with developing a theoretical framework for describing the behavior of some of the heaviest particles within a unique form of matter that characterized our universe in its earliest stages.
For more than two decades, Texas A&M physicist Ralf Rapp has been making essential contributions in multiple areas of quantum chromodynamics (QCD), a theory of the strong force that describes how nuclear matter, including a novel form known as quark gluon plasma (QGP), interacts. Within this extremely hot phase of matter, protons and neutrons are dissolved into their elementary building blocks, quarks and gluons, credited with creating more than 98% of the visible mass in the universe. At more than 100 million times the Sun’s surface temperature, the QGP is believed not only to have filled the early universe during the first few microseconds after the Big Bang but also to be present today in the cores of neutron stars.
Rapp now will serve as principal investigator for the Heavy-Flavor Theory (HEFTY) for QCD Matter collaboration, one of five Topical Theory Collaboration projects unveiled last week by the DOE Office of Science as part of an $11.24 million initiative intended to bring together leading U.S. nuclear theorists to collaboratively focus on solving some of the most challenging problems in nuclear physics. In addition to Rapp, HEFTY features 11 co-investigators from nine other institutions: Brookhaven National Laboratory, Duke University, Florida State University, Kent State University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.
“Advances in nuclear physics provide important new insights into the nature of our world as well as novel applications in the areas of national security, energy, health and space exploration,” said Timothy Hallman, Associate Director of Science for Nuclear Physics. “Developing rigorous theoretical frameworks to underpin such advances enables new predictions of nuclear phenomena and a foundation for understanding how knowledge gained can be used to benefit society, such as exploring more clean energy options and new applications in nuclear medicine and industry.”
Rapp, a University Professor in the Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy and a member of the Cyclotron Institute since 2003, is an internationally recognized leader in high energy nuclear physics. He and his research group conduct theoretical studies of matter as it existed in the earliest moments of our universe and how it interacts at high temperatures and densities, based on the fundamental forces and properties of the strongly interacting matter that is formed in heavy-ion collisions.
“Without a doubt, Dr. Rapp is a world-renowned leader in the field of theoretical analysis of quark gluon plasma,” said Grigory Rogachev, professor and head of Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy. “This is a major success for our nuclear theory program, which highlights again the leading role of our faculty on the national and international stage.”
This story “Texas A&M To Lead $2.5 Million DOE Topical Theory Collaboration Exploring Heavy Flavor Particles” was originally published by Texas A&M Arts & Sciences.