Unique Science Opportunities of the 12 GeV Upgrade
The 12 GeV Upgrade is a unique opportunity for the nuclear physics community to expand its reaches into unknown scientific areas. For the first time, researchers will be able to probe the quark and gluon structure of strongly interacting systems to determine whether QCD (quantum chromodynamics), the theory believed to describe strong interactions, gives a full and complete description of hadronic (3 quark) systems. Jefferson Lab at 12 GeV will make profound contributions to the study of hadronic matter-the matter that makes up everything in the world.
In particular the 12 GeV research program will allow breakthroughs to be launched in five main areas:
- Through the search for exotic mesons, in which gluons are an unavoidable part of the structure, researchers will explore the fascinating and complex vacuum structure of QCD and the nature of confinement.
- Through extremely high precision studies of parity violation, developed in order to study the role of hidden flavors in the nucleon, researchers can explore physics beyond the Standard Model, on an energy scale that cannot be explored even with the proposed International Linear Collider.
- The combination of luminosity, duty factor and kinematic reach of this machine will far surpass anything available up to this point, allowing the nuclear physics community a previously impossible view of the spin and flavor dependence of the valence parton distributions - the heart of the proton, where its quantum numbers are determined.
- Researchers will be able to take a revolutionary look into the structure of atomic nuclei, exploring how the valence quark structure is modified in a dense nuclear medium. These studies will give the world a far deeper and more fundamental understanding of the structure of atomic nuclei with far-reaching implications for all of nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics.
- The Generalized Parton Distributions will allow researchers, for the first time, to engage in nuclear tomography, discovering the true three-dimensional structure of the nucleon.