Date: 25 Jun 2012

Nuclear physics with a medium-energy Electron-Ion Collider

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Abstract

A polarized ep/eA collider (Electron-Ion Collider, or EIC) with variable center-of-mass energy √s ∼ 20–70 GeV and luminosity ∼1034 cm−2 s−1 would be uniquely suited to address several outstanding questions of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) and the microscopic structure of hadrons and nuclei: i) the three-dimensional structure of the nucleon in QCD (sea quark and gluon spatial distributions, orbital motion, polarization, correlations); ii) the fundamental color fields in nuclei (nuclear parton densities, shadowing, coherence effects, color transparency); iii) the conversion of color charge to hadrons (fragmentation, parton propagation through matter, in-medium jets). We briefly review the conceptual aspects of these questions and the measurements that would address them, emphasizing the qualitatively new information that could be obtained with the collider. Such a medium-energy EIC could be realized at Jefferson Lab after the 12GeV Upgrade (MEIC), or at Brookhaven National Lab as the low-energy stage of eRHIC.

Communicated by M. Anselmino