The development of relativistic nuclear physics at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) — from the first experiments to our time is presented, and the current state of the problem is reviewed. The Nuclotron-based Ion Collider fAcility (NICA) at JINR and its status are described. Two goals of the project—experimental studies of dense nuclear (baryonic) matter and particle spin physics are combined in the project on the basis of a common experimental method—the investigation of collisions of nuclei at relativistic energies. The first issue is discussed in the present article, and the second will be dealt with in a dedicated publication. Such experiments were started at JINR in the 1970s at the proton synchrotron "Synchrophasotron". They are the main goal of the NICA project. Fundamental and applied research in other areas of science and technology, that can be implemented at the NICA accelerator facility, is discussed as well. The accelerator facility under construction at JINR will allow to perform experimental studies in particle physics at parameters and experimental conditions that were previously inaccessible. With NICA, particle physics research in the previously inaccessible range of experimental parameters and conditions becomes possible, so heavy ion beams can now be collided at center-of-mass energies between 4 and 11 GeV at luminosities up to 1027 cm−2 s−1. These studies will be supplemented with experiments at the beam of extracted nuclei incident upon a fixed target. A short description is given of the detectors under construction for these studies.
Keywords: synchrophasotron, baryonic matter, mixed phase, nucleon spin, booster synchrotron, collider, luminosity, superconducting magnet, stochastic cooling, electron cooling, cryogenics PACS:11.80.−m, 13.85.Dz, 14.20.Dh (all) DOI:10.3367/UFNe.0186.201604c.0405 URL: https://ufn.ru/en/articles/2016/4/c/ Citation: Agapov N N, Kekelidze V D, Kovalenko A D, Lednitsky R, Matveev V A, Meshkov I N, Nikitin V A, Potrebennikov Yu K, Sorin A S, Trubnikov G V "Relativistic nuclear physics at JINR: from the synchrophasotron to the NICA collider" Phys. Usp.59 383–402 (2016)