Ultrarelativistic heavy ion collisions recreate in the laboratory the thermodynamical conditions prevailing in the early universe up to 10-6 sec, thereby allowing the study of the quark-gluon plasma (QGP), a state of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) matter with deconfined partons. The top quark, the heaviest elementary particle known, is accessible in nucleus-nucleus collisions at the CERN LHC, and constitutes a novel probe of the QGP. Here, we report the first evidence for the production of top quarks in nucleus-nucleus collisions, using lead-lead collision data at a nucleon-nucleon center-of-mass energy of 5.02 TeV recorded by the CMS experiment. Two methods are used to measure the cross section for top quark pair production (σtt) via the selection of charged leptons (electrons or muons) and bottom quarks. One method relies on the leptonic information alone, and the second one exploits, in addition, the presence of bottom quarks. The measured cross sections, σtt=2.54-0.74+0.84 and 2.03-0.64+0.71 μb, respectively, are compatible with expectations from scaled proton-proton data and QCD predictions.
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We congratulate our colleagues in the CERN accelerator departments for the excellent performance of the LHC and thank the technical and administrative staffs at CERN and at other CMS institutes for their contributions to the success of the CMS effort. In addition, we gratefully acknowledge the computing centers and personnel of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid for delivering so effectively the computing infrastructure essential to our analyses. Finally, we acknowledge the enduring support for the construction and operation of the LHC and the CMS detector provided by the following funding agencies: BMBWF and FWF (Austria); FNRS and FWO (Belgium); CNPq, CAPES, FAPERJ, FAPERGS, and FAPESP (Brazil); MES (Bulgaria); CERN; CAS, MoST, and NSFC (China); COLCIENCIAS (Colombia); MSES and CSF (Croatia); RIF (Cyprus); SENESCYT (Ecuador); MoER, ERC IUT, PUT and ERDF (Estonia); Academy of Finland, MEC, and HIP (Finland); CEA and CNRS/IN2P3 (France); BMBF, DFG, and HGF (Germany); GSRT (Greece); NKFIA (Hungary); DAE and DST (India); IPM (Iran); SFI (Ireland); INFN (Italy); MSIP and NRF (Republic of Korea); MES (Latvia); LAS (Lithuania); MOE and UM (Malaysia); BUAP, CINVESTAV, CONACYT, LNS, SEP, and UASLP-FAI (Mexico); MOS (Montenegro); MBIE (New Zealand); PAEC (Pakistan); MSHE and NSC (Poland); FCT (Portugal); JINR (Dubna); MON, RosAtom, RAS, RFBR, and NRC KI (Russia); MESTD (Serbia); SEIDI, CPAN, PCTI, and FEDER (Spain); MOSTR (Sri Lanka); Swiss Funding Agencies (Switzerland); MST (Taipei); ThEPCenter, IPST, STAR, and NSTDA (Thailand); TUBITAK and TAEK (Turkey); NASU (Ukraine); STFC (United Kingdom); DOE and NSF (USA).
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