Scientists at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York have published their first results on how particles called upsilons sequentially melt in laboratory-created matter known as quark-gluon plasma (QGP). The free quarks and gluons that make up QGP are known as deconfined, and the upsilons allow scientists to examine how they interact with other particles. Upsilons are made up of a heavy quark-antiquark pair bound together and are difficult to melt, but when placed in QGP, the surrounding quarks and gluons interact with the particles, breaking them apart. The team found that the different types of upsilons reacted differently to the temperature changes, with the most tightly bound state being the hardest to melt. RHIC is a US Department of Energy facility for nuclear physics research that collides atomic nuclei stripped of electrons to create QGP.
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