A wide variety of thermodynamic and/or statistical techniques have been applied to describe particle spectra and yields in relativistic heavy ion collisions. Not having done a detailed, ‘statistical’ analysis of the hundreds of such papers, it is still safe to say the vast majority of such calculations do not start from the microcanonical ensemble, that is, they do not incorporate the effects of global energy-momentum conservation. In Conservation Laws and the Multiplicity Evolution of Spectra at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider Chajecki and Lisa study the role of Energy and Momentum Conservation-Induced Constraints (EMCIC’s) on single particle spectra at RHIC. (In a nice piece of acronym-overloading, this work builds on their previous studies of Energy and Momentum Conservation-Induced Correlations in femtoscopic measurements.) Their studies suggest that the effects of EMCIC’s can lead to surprisingly large shifts in the momentum distributions between low and high multiplicity states.
There is additional information in this figure that the authors may wish to extract. This low momentum regime is where one expects participant scaling to hold, and this seems to be (roughly) the case for the lowest momentum pions, but is badly violated for the protons. Protons with pT < 0.7 GeV/c are suppressed in Au+Au collisions relative to participant scaling; protons with momenta greater than this value are enhanced. The conventional explanation for this is radial flow, which has a larger effect on higher mass particles, and which will lead to a depletion of the low pT region. This paper suggests that identical trends can result from EMCIC’s, leading the authors to state “Extracting physics messages from the changing spectra, while ignoring kinematic effects of the same order as the observed changes themselves, seems unjustified.”