Abstract:
This is a summary of experimental results on photons, leptons, and heavy quarks presented at Quark Matter 2008. A first measurement of the bottom to charm contribution to the lepton spectrum has given experimental indication for the suppression of charm and bottom. Excess dileptons have been observed and studied by both NA60 and PHENIX, which may arise from the early production of thermal dileptons and/or the modification of mesons.

Abstract:
A model independent approach based on a generalization of the operator product expansion is used to describe semileptonic decays of heavy flavors. In the first part of the dissertation we calculate differential distributions in the inclusive semileptonic weak decays of heavy flavors in QCD. In particular, the double distribution in electron energy and invariant mass of the lepton pair is calculated. The distributions are calculated as series in $m_Q^{-1}$ where $m_Q$ is the heavy quark mass. All effects up to $m_Q^{-2}$ are included. Also calculated are the energy distribution and semileptonic decay width for the case of a heavy lepton in the final state. Based on the results of the first part of the work, we calculate the full up to order $1/m_Q^2$ set of the OPE sum rules for the heavy flavor transitions and radiative corrections to them up to order $\alpha_s\Lambda_{QCD}/m_Q$. In the second part of this work a new model is proposed for the inclusive semileptonic decays of the $B$ mesons $B\rightarrow l\bar{\nu}X_c$, which is {\em defined} by the requirement that it should satisfy the QCD consistency conditions. These conditions are imposed in the form of the OPE sum rules. It is shown that under some natural assumptions the OPE sum rules provide sufficient number of constraints to fully determine exclusive contributions of a number of resonances in the final state of the decay. The theoretical results for the model are presented in the form suitable for comparison with experimental data. The proposed model can be used for experimental measurements of the heavy meson matrix element $\mu _\pi ^2$ which describes the kinetic energy of the heavy quark inside the hadron, as well as for extraction of the value of $|V_{cb}|$ from experimental data and other applications.

Abstract:
Flow measurements of multi-strange baryons from Au + Au collisions at RHIC energies demonstrate that collectivity develops before hadronization, among partons. To pin down the partonic EOS of matter produced at RHIC, the status of thermalization in such collisions has to be addressed. We propose to measure collective flow of heavy-flavor quarks, e.g. charm quarks, as an indicator of thermalization of light flavors ($u,d,s$). The completion of the time of flight barrel and the proposed upgrade with a $\mu$Vertex detector for heavy-flavor identification in STAR are well suited for achieving these goals.

Abstract:
Thermal fluctuations and correlations between the light and heavy-light mesons are explored within a chiral effective theory implementing heavy quark symmetry. We show, that various heavy-light flavor correlations indicate a remnant of the chiral criticality in a narrow range of temperature where the chiral susceptibility exhibits a peak structure. The onset of the chiral crossover, in the heavy-light flavor correlations, is therefore independent from the light flavors. This indicates that the fluctuations carried by strange charmed mesons can also be used to identify the chiral crossover, which is dominated by the non-strange light quark dynamics.

Abstract:
We study heavy quark energy loss and thermalization in hot and dense nuclear medium. The diffusion of heavy quarks is calculated via a Langevin equation, both for a static medium as well as for a quark-gluon plasma (QGP) medium generated by a (3+1)-dimensional hydrodynamic model. We investigate how the initial configuration of the QGP and its properties affect the final state spectra and elliptic flow of heavy flavor mesons and non-photonic electrons. It is observed that both the geometric anisotropy of the initial profile and the flow profile of the hydrodynamic medium play important roles in the heavy quark energy loss process and the development of elliptic flow. Within our definition of the thermalization criterion and for reasonable values of the diffusion constant, we observe thermalization times that are longer than the lifetime of the QGP phase.

Abstract:
Charm- and bottom-quark rescattering in a Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP) is investigated with the objective of assessing the approach towards thermalization. Employing a Fokker-Planck equation to approximate the collision integral of the Boltzmann equation we augment earlier studies based on perturbative parton cross sections by introducing resonant heavy-light quark interactions. The latter are motivated by recent QCD lattice calculations which indicate the presence of "hadronic" states in the QGP. We model these states by colorless (pseudo-) scalar and (axial-) vector D- and B-mesons within a heavy-quark effective theory framework. We find that the presence of these states at moderate QGP temperatures substantially accelerates the kinetic equilibration of c-quarks as compared to using perturbative interactions. We also comment on consequences for $D$-meson observables in ultra-relativistic heavy-ion collisions.

Abstract:
Starting with a hidden local symmetry Lagrangian at the vector manifestation (VM) fixed point that incorporates heavy-quark symmetry and matching the bare theory to QCD, we calculate the splitting of chiral doublers of heavy-light mesons proposed by Nowak, Rho and Zahed, and Bardeen and Hill. We show, in the three-flavor chiral limit, that the splitting is directly proportional to the light-quark condensate <\bar{q}q> and comes out to be \sim (1/3) m_N where m_N is the nucleon mass, implying that the splitting vanishes in the chiral limit at the chiral restoration point -- temperature T_c, density n_c or number of flavors N_F^c. The result turns out to be surprisingly simple with the vector (\rho) meson playing the crucial role in quantum corrections, pointing to the relevance of the VM to QCD in the way chiral symmetry is manifested in hadronic matter. We also make predictions on the hadronic decay processes of the excited heavy (charm) -light mesons \tilde{D}.

Abstract:
We investigate the behavior of the retarded Green's function of a U(1) gauge field in holographic N=4 Super Yang-Mills plasma, taking the leading strong coupling corrections into account. First, we use the thermal limit of this quantity to determine the flow of the photon quasinormal mode spectrum away from the infinite 't Hooft coupling limit, and after this specialize to a specific model of holographic thermalization, in which we evaluate the corresponding spectral density. In the latter case, our primary interest lies in the pattern, with which the spectral density approaches its equilibrium form, and how this process depends on the value of the coupling as well as the photon virtuality. All of the results obtained point consistently towards the weakening of the usual top/down pattern of holographic thermalization, once the coupling is decreased from the \lambda=infinity limit.

Abstract:
We investigate the behavior of the retarded Green's function of a U(1) gauge field in holographic N=4 Super Yang-Mills plasma, taking the leading strong coupling corrections into account. First, we use the thermal limit of this quantity to determine the flow of the photon quasinormal mode spectrum away from the infinite 't Hooft coupling limit, and after this specialize to a specific model of holographic thermalization, in which we evaluate the corresponding spectral density. In the latter case, our primary interest lies in the pattern, with which the spectral density approaches its equilibrium form, and how this process depends on the value of the coupling as well as the photon virtuality. All of the results obtained point consistently towards the weakening of the usual top/down pattern of holographic thermalization, once the coupling is decreased from the \lambda=infinity limit.