Pre-equilibrium dynamics and heavy-ion observables

Research paper by Ulrich W. Heinz, Jia Liu

Indexed on: 24 May '16Published on: 24 May '16Published in: Nuclear Theory


To bracket the importance of the pre-equilibrium stage on relativistic heavy-ion collision observables, we compare simulations where it is modeled by either free-streaming partons or fluid dynamics. These cases implement the assumptions of extremely weak vs. extremely strong coupling in the initial collision stage. Accounting for flow generated in the pre-equilibrium stage, we study the sensitivity of radial, elliptic and triangular flow on the switching time when the hydrodynamic description becomes valid. Using the hybrid code iEBE-VISHNU we perform a multi-parameter search, constrained by particle ratios, integrated elliptic and triangular charged hadron flow, the mean transverse momenta of pions, kaons and protons, and the second moment $\langle p_T^2\rangle$ of the proton transverse momentum spectrum, to identify optimized values for the switching time $\tau_s$ from pre-equilibrium to hydrodynamics, the specific shear viscosity $\eta/s$, the normalization factor of the temperature-dependent specific bulk viscosity $(\zeta/s)(T)$, and the switching temperature $T_\mathrm{sw}$ from viscous hydrodynamics to the hadron cascade UrQMD. With the optimized parameters, we predict and compare with experiment the $p_T$-distributions of $\pi$, $K$, $p$, $\Lambda$, $\Xi$ and $\Omega$ yields and their elliptic flow coefficients, focusing specifically on the mass-ordering of the elliptic flow for protons and Lambda hyperons which is incorrectly described by VISHNU without pre-equilibrium flow.