During 2015, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) provided collisions of transversely polarized protons with Au and Al nuclei for the first time, enabling the exploration of transverse-single-spin asymmetries with heavy nuclei. Large single-spin asymmetries in very forward neutron production have been previously observed in transversely polarized p+p collisions at RHIC, and the existing theoretical framework that was successful in describing the single-spin asymmetry in p+p collisions predicts only a moderate atomic-mass-number (A) dependence. In contrast, the asymmetries observed at RHIC in p+A collisions showed a surprisingly strong A dependence in inclusive forward neutron production. The observed asymmetry in p+Al collisions is much smaller, while the asymmetry in p+Au collisions is a factor of 3 larger in absolute value and of opposite sign. The interplay of different neutron production mechanisms is discussed as a possible explanation of the observed A dependence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy