Nuclear correlations and modifications of the nucleon-nucleon potential due to the QCD critical mode
2019 September 19
The scalar-isoscalar mode of QCD becomes lighter/nearly massless close to the chiral transition/second-order critical point. From nuclear physics we know that this mode is the main responsible for the attractive part of the nucleon-nucleon potential at inter-particle distances of 1-2 fm. Therefore one expects that close to the critical point there is a long-range strong attraction among nucleons. Using a Walecka-Serot model for the NN potential we study the effects of the critical point in a finite system of nucleons and mesons by solving classical Molecular Dynamics+Langevin equations for the freeze-out conditions of heavy-ion collisions. Going beyond the mean-field approximation allows us to account for strong nucleon correlations in the time evolution, leading to baryon clustering. We observe that light cluster formation, together with an enhancement of higher-order cumulants of the proton distribution can signal the presence of the critical point.