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Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Feb 25;94(7):072302. Epub 2005 Feb 23.

Apparent thermalization due to plasma instabilities in the quark-gluon plasma.

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Department of Physics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901, USA.


Hydrodynamical modeling of heavy-ion collisions at RHIC suggests that the quark-gluon plasma (QGP) "thermalizes" in a remarkably short time scale, about 0.6 fm/c. We argue that this should be viewed as indicating fast isotropization, but not necessarily complete thermalization, of the nonequilibrium QGP. Non-Abelian plasma instabilities can drive local isotropization of an anisotropic QGP on a time scale which is faster than ordinary perturbative scattering processes. As a result, we argue that theoretical expectations based on weak-coupling analysis are not necessarily in conflict with hydrodynamic modeling of the early part of RHIC collisions, provided one recognizes the key role of non-Abelian plasma instabilities.

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