Abstract:Année de publication : 2021
This work establishes a deep connection between two seemingly distant branches of nuclear physics: nuclear structure and relativistic heavy-ion collisions. At the heart of this connection is the recent discovery made at particle colliders that the elliptic flow of outgoing hadrons in central nucleus-nucleus collisions is strongly impacted by the quadrupole deformation of the colliding nuclear species. I review the physics of the soft sector of relativistic heavy-ion collisions, and I explain that the interpretation of elliptic flow data in central 197Au+197Au, 238U+238U, and 129Xe+129Xe collisions requires a deep understanding the structure of these ions. Subsequently, I introduce a technique that permits one to isolate collision configurations in which the deformed shapes of the colliding nuclei maximally break rotational (azimuthal) symmetry in the interaction region. This allows me to construct observables that possess an unparalleled sensitivity to the quadrupole deformation of the colliding ions, and thus to conclude that nuclear experiments at high energy can be used to place new quantitative constraints on the deformation of atomic nuclei. I emphasize the great opportunities offered by potential collider experiments aimed at the systematic study of nuclear deformation across the valley of stability.