Yes, jets are quenched also at the LHC !

The rapid fire succession of results from the Pb+Pb run at the LHC continues. This morning the ATLAS Collaboration submitted a letter on jet quenching entitled:

The manuscript reports a growing asymmetry between the triggered jet and the back-jet in dijet events as a function of increasing collision centrality. The trigger condition was a jet with total ET > 100 GeV accompanied by a backward jet (relative azimuthal angle larger than 90 degrees) with ET > 25 GeV. The average underlying event was subtracted in the determination of ET. 1693 di-jet events satisfying this condition were recorded in a sample of Pb+Pb events with integrated luminosity of 1.7 μb-1.

The di-jet asymmetry AJ is defined as the ratio of the difference between the ET of the trigger jet and the back-jet and their sum. Given the threshold condition on the back-jet, the largest possible asymmetry for a 100 GeV trigger jet is 75 GeV / 125 GeV = 0.6. For p+p collisions and peripheral Pb+Pb collisions the asymmetry distribution peaks at or near zero; for the 10% most central events, however, the distribution peaks at AJ ≈ 0.4. This means that in the most likely case, the back-jet carries 57% less total transverse energy in a cone of R = 0.4 than the trigger jet!

The data also provide some hints about where the energy missing from the back-jet goes. First, a global missing energy analysis does indicates that the energy was not lost into particles twhich escape detection by the calorimeter. Rather, the energy lost from the back-jet seems to be redistributed over a wide azimuthal range as shown for one example in Figure 1 of the ATLAS Letter.

Although it is too early to draw a quantitative comparison of the strength of jet quenching at RHIC and the LHC from these data, it seems clear that back-jets in central Pb+Pb collisions are drastically modified by the presence of the medium. The message is that jet quenching as a probe for hot QCD matter is alive and well at the LHC. The numbers provided by the ATLAS analysis should make it possible to extract a value for the Jet RAA for the trigger jet. Will the ATLAS Collaboration leave this analysis to theorists?


The ATLAS Collaboration released its first result from Pb+Pb collisions at the LHC, and it’s a blockbuster. Their new paper, titled Observation of a Centrality-Dependent Dijet Asymmetry in Lead-Lead Collisions at √sNN = 2.76 TeV with the ATLAS Detector at the LHC, has been fast-tracked for acceptance in Physical Review Letters. In this paper ATLAS reports the observation of strong quenching in highly energetic jets (> 100 GeV) produced in Pb+Pb collisions at the LHC. The quenching is sufficiently strong that the trigger jet may properly be referred to as a monojet.


The effect is clearly seen in Figure 1 of their paper, reproduced above. The high  pT towers that dominate the Lego plot and the event display are unbalanced by a partner jet on the away side in azimuth. Instead, their appears to be enhanced low p emission over nearly the entire away side azimuthal distribution, mostly clearly seen in the towers of the beams-eye view event display.

A more quantitative analysis is of course provided in the paper, in which the evolution of the quenching is presented as a function of centrality, and also compared to HIJING events supplemented with unquenched jets from PYTHIA. For peripheral events, both the the energy asymmetry of the away-side jet and the distribution in azimuthal angle is in good agreement with those seen in p+p events and in the HIJING+PYTHIA Monte Carlo events. This is in sharp distinction to the most central Pb+Pb events, where the jet events have a pronounced asymmetry in energy and a significantly broadened angular distribution.

Of course, the disappearance of the away-side “jet” was discovered by the STAR collaboration in data collected during the first full energy RHIC run. But several aspects of the ATLAS result are even more striking: The observed quenching is for true jets, fully reconstructed in heavy ion events with complete and essentially hermetic hadronic calorimetry; the quenching remains to jet energies of (at least) 100 GeV; and the modification of the jet azimuthal energy distribution is clearly observed in the away-size distribution from the trigger jet. These are all firsts in heavy ion physics, and to see them in a Physical Review Letter a few days after the start of heavy ion physics running at the LHC is indeed remarkable.

The ATLAS results is featured in a CERN press release, dated today (26-Nov-10), where it is stated a similar result from CMS will follow shortly. Also posted today is a Symmetry Magazine article on the ATLAS result containing comments by Brian Cole and Peter Steinberg.

First Pb+Pb Collisions at 2.76 TeV !

The long-awaited day has arrived, in spectacular fashion. The LHC has declared “Stable beams with ions”, and ALICE, ATLAS and CMS are all seeing events, and sharing their beautiful event displays with the world.

It is enormously satisfying to see the field of relativistic heavy ion physics take this tremendous (large) step on the energy frontier. Congratulations and kudos to all who have worked for decades to make this happen. Surely extraordinary discoveries await.

Update: There is now a press release from CERN with useful links to various event displays.