Pre-equilibrium evolution effects on heavy-ion collision observables

Research paper by Jia Liu, Chun Shen, Ulrich W. Heinz

Indexed on: 08 Apr '15Published on: 08 Apr '15Published in: Nuclear Theory


In order to investigate the importance of pre-equilibrium dynamics on relativistic heavy-ion collision observables, we match a highly non-equilibrium early evolution stage, modeled by free-streaming partons generated from the Monte Carlo Kharzeev-Levin-Nardi (MC-KLN) and Monte Carlo Glauber (MC-Glb) models, to a locally approximately thermalized later evolution stage described by viscous hydrodynamics, and study the dependence of final hadronic transverse momentum distributions, in particular their underlying radial and anisotropic flows, on the switching time between these stages. Performing a 3-parameter fit of the measured values for the average transverse momenta $\langle p_\perp \rangle$ for pions, kaons and protons as well as the elliptic and triangular flows of charged hadrons $v_{2,3}^\mathrm{ch}$, with the switching time $\tau_s$, the specific shear viscosity $\eta/s$ during the hydrodynamic stage, and the kinetic decoupling temperature $T_\mathrm{dec}$ as free parameters, we find that the preferred "thermalization" times $\tau_s$ depend strongly on the model of the initial conditions. MC-KLN initial conditions require an earlier transition to hydrodynamic behavior (at $\tau_s \approx$ 0.13 fm/$c$) , followed by hydrodynamic evolution with a larger specific shear viscosity $\eta/s\approx$ 0.2, than MC-Glb initial conditions which prefer switching at a later time ($\tau_s\approx$ 0.6 fm/$c$) followed by a less viscous hydrodynamic evolution with $\eta/s\approx$ 0.16. These new results including pre-equilibrium evolution are compared to fits without a pre-equilbrium stage where all dynamic evolution before the onset of hydrodynamic behavior is ignored. In each case, the quality of the dynamical descriptions for the optimized parameter sets, as well as the observables which show the strongest constraining power for the thermalization time, are discussed.