by Cvetan Valeriev Cheshkov, Alberica Toia*. Published: 23 July 2012

Over the past two years the ALICE experiment collected big samples of lead-lead and proton-proton collision data. These precise data allowed to pursue the scientific program of the experiment and to obtain many new and interesting results.

At the beginning of 2013, just before the LHC shutdown for two and a half years, the ALICE experiment will get another opportunity to collect exiting data sample with the asymmetric proton-lead collisions. These data are crucial for understanding the complexity of the lead-lead interaction in many levels and are a necessary supplement for the base proton-proton data.

In fact, the data from the proton-lead collisions will represent an ultimate benchmark for the already published results from lead-lead collisions. It will definitely allow to decouple the cold nuclear matter effects and thus will shed light to our quest for the quark-gluon plasma.

In order to cope with the forthcoming proton-lead run and to organize and steer the first analysis of the data, the ALICE management decided to create a special task force. The experience from the past proved the efficiency of such an initiative - both the first proton-proton physics task force in 2009 and first lead-lead physics task force in 2011 brought many high-quality results in just few weeks after the data taking.

Our collaboration gained a great experience since the first data taking in 2009. Many utilities and analysis techniques were established and widely used over the years. Nevertheless, the first proton-lead run represents a challenge in many aspects. Special care will have to be taken in order to define and implement proper trigger, event and centrality selections. We will need careful preparation of both sub-detector hardware configuration as well as the software and analysis tools. All these will be discussed and implemented within the newly created task force.

ALICE event from pp@7TeV

The task force has also the mandate to identify and steer the early analyses of the data. The range of the possible topics might include not only the basic measurements, such as multiplicity density and the spectrum of the charged particles, but also more advanced analyses, such as the charm and J/psi spectra, charged-particle correlations. It is worth noting also possible analysis of the ultra-peripheral collisions which will bring information in a kinematics range in which there is little or no data so far.

We are looking forward to close collaboration with all of you and hope our common effort will make the proton-lead run a real success for ALICE and for the heavy-ion community!

*Leaders of the p-Pb task force