Departmental Colloquium: Dr. Paul Chesler
Title: Gravitational collapse and holographic thermalization
Abstract: A remarkable result from heavy ion collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and Large Hadron Collider is that, shortly after the collision event, the quark-gluon plasma produced behaves as a nearly ideal liquid. Understanding the dynamics responsible for such rapid
thermalization is a challenge using traditional perturbative field theory. In recent years holography has emerged as a powerful tool to study non-equilibrium phenomena, mapping the dynamics of certain quantum field theories onto the dynamics of semi-classical gravity. Via holography, the production of quark-gluon plasma maps onto the process of gravitational collapse and black hole formation, with thermalization of the black hole's Hawking radiation encoding thermalization of the dual quark-gluon plasma. I will describe several processes which mimic heavy ion collisions, present results for thermalization times and mechanisms, and demonstrate that rapid thermalization is natural in strongly coupled field theories.