The 3d O(4) model as an effective approach to the QCD phase diagram
Keywords:QCD phase diagram, non-linear sigma model, lattice simulations
The QCD phase diagram is one of the most prominent outstanding puzzles within the Standard Model. Various experiments, which aim at its exploration beyond small baryon density, are operating or in preparation. From the theoretical side, this is an issue of non-perturbative QCD, and therefore of lattice simulations. However, a finite baryon density entails a technical problem (known as the “sign problem”), which has not been overcome so far. Here we present a study of an effective theory, the O(4) non-linear sigma model. It performs spontaneous symmetry breaking with the same Lie group structure as 2-flavor QCD in the chiral limit, which strongly suggests that they belong to the same universality class. Since we are interested in high temperature, we further assume dimensional reduction to the 3d O(4) model, which implies topological sectors. As pointed out by Skyrme, Wilczek and others, its topological charge takes the role of the baryon number. Hence the baryon chemical potential µB appears as an imaginary vacuum angle, which can be included in the lattice simulation without any sign problem. We present numerical results for the critical line in the chiral limit, and for the crossover in the presence of light quark masses. Their shapes are compatible with other predictions, but up to the value of about µB ≈ 300 MeV we do not find the notorious Critical Endpoint (CEP).
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