Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

James Nagle

Second Advisor

Dennis Perepelitsa

Third Advisor

Kevin Stenson

Fourth Advisor

Oliver DeWolfe

Fifth Advisor

Juri Toomre


The Quark Gluon Plasma (QGP), a hot and dense state of matter in which quarks are not confined inside hadrons, is thought to be the same as the matter comprising the entire universe approximately one microsecond after the Big Bang. In Au+Au collisions at √(sNN) = 200 GeV at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and Pb+Pb collisions at √(sNN) = 2.76 TeV at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), QGP has been discovered to have unique properties, such as its opacity to color charges and the fact that it behaves like a near-perfect fluid. Collective behavior in the form of a substantial elliptical azimuthal anisotropy (v2) in the momentum distribution of final state particles has been observed, indicating a strongly-coupled, hydrodynamically flowing medium.

Recently, features of collectivity have been detected in high-multiplicity, small collision systems thought to be too small to produce the QGP, such as 3He+Au and d+Au at √(sNN) = 200 GeV, p+Pb at √(sNN) = 5 TeV, and in p+p at √s = 13 TeV events. In order to constrain models seeking to describe this phenomena, collision systems with distinct initial collision geometries were run at RHIC: 3He+Au for triangular geometry, d+Au for elliptical geometry, and p+Au for circular geometry. Together with coauthors, in a theory paper published in 2014, we proposed the suite of measurements at RHIC of the three collision systems.

This thesis is the completion of that set of three measurements, by measuring v2 in the p+Au system. This thesis gives details on the analysis techniques used to make the measurement including the quality assurance of the data, the optimization of the midrapidity charged hadron cuts, and the event plane angle calibration. Special attention is given to correcting the systematic effects produced by the beam alignment unique to the p+Au dataset in order to make the v2 measurement with sufficient precision. Comparisons of v2 in the three collision systems and various theoretical models are made and it appears to be consistent with a QGP being formed. I am a coauthor on the experimental paper with these thesis results which has been published in Physical Review C.