The study of nuclear matter under extreme conditions, where new states are predicted by Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), is the new frontier on the physics of the strong interactions. The upcoming experimental program in ultra-relativistic heavy ion collisions at the CERN Large Hadron Collider, starting in 2009, is aimed at producing and studying a new state of matter, the Quark Gluon Plasma, and at the understanding of the fundamental properties of QCD, such as confinement and its phase diagram. The main goal of this project is to develop new theoretical tools for the analysis and understanding of the forthcoming experimental data. In this project we will use String Theory techniques to study non-perturbative aspects of Yang-Mills theories via the AdS-CFT correspondence. This novel procedure allows to study real-time dynamical aspects of a strongly-coupled Quark Gluon Plasma so far intractable via ordinary field-theoretical tools. In particular, we will study the thermalization dynamics of the very dense off-equilibrium partonic system created after a high energy nuclear collisions via the construction of a gravity-dual description of high-energy QCD scattering. Another goal of this project is to study the propagation of hard tomographic probes, such as quark and gluonic jets and heavy mesons, through a strongly-coupled medium, as well as the back-reaction induced in the medium in the form of collective excitations. The proposed studies shall be complemented and benchmarked against the available information about high density QCD systems derived in the weak coupling formalisms of the Color Glass Condensate and Finite Temperature QCD. An important ingredient of this project is the direct phenomenological application of the theoretical research work. To that end, a close contact and collaboration with different experimental groups is foreseen.
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