Lepton Pairs from Thermal Mesons
For a while now, electromagnetic signals have been known as ideal probes of strongly interacting matter at high temperatures and densities1. This owes to the fact that once they are produced, they will travel relatively unscathed from their point of origin to the detector. Since production rates are rapidly increasing functions of temperature and density, these electromagnetic signals provide valuable information on the hot and dense phases of the reaction. It is hoped that, because of these facts, those signals should constitute precious aids in the process of analyzing the behaviour of hot quark-gluon matter2. As with any possible experimental signature of the QGP, a great deal of care must go into the calculation of a corresponding “purely hadronic” signal, that is a contribution to the same experimental observables from sources other than the deconfined, chiral-symmetric phase. As far as the quark-gluon plasma is concerned, one may refer to these sources as the “background”.
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