Excited states of strongly interacting matter predicted from first principles

November 2, 2021

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What is the origin of matter? What kind of matter is there and what are its properties? These questions are simple but difficult to answer, and they are at the center of nuclear physics, both for experimental and theoretical efforts. Among the fundamental forces of nature is the "strong interaction" responsible for the formation of matter as we know it.

The George Washington Lattice QCD collaboration (GWQCD) has determined the existence and properties of strongly interacting three-body resonances from first principles; these results are in print at Physical Review Letters (https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.127.222001) and are available as a preprint on arXiv (https://arxiv.org/abs/2107.03973).

Such resonances form a new, excited state of matter that is known experimentally for a long time, but has been inaccessible theoretically before. New theoretical and computational tools were developed by the GW team to harness numerical power of supercomputers to shed light into this exciting area of nature.

For the first time, the mass and width, and decay properties of a three-body resonance known under the name of a1(1260) were determined by the joint research teams led by four faculty members in the GW Physics department: Maxim Mai, Andrei Alexandru, Michael Doering, and Frank Lee. The crucial lattice QCD input was produced by former GW PhD student Chris Culver, now working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Liverpool, and former GW postdoctoral researcher Ruairí Brett. Former GW PhD student Daniel Sadasivan, now working as Assistant Professor of Physics at Ave Maria University in Florida, performed the complementary work to determine the resonance properties. This breakthrough represents a central result of Dr. Doering's Career grant sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Dr. Alexandru's and and Dr. Lee's work supported by the Department of Energy. These grants not only supported the current work and its contributing researchers but also previous studies published in Physical Review Letters and elsewhere. Furthermore, GW's Colonial One supercomputer and computational resources available through GW IMPACT collaboration played a central role in the research of the GWQCD collaboration and enabled this breakthrough.