As an extension of QCD, consider a theory with ‘‘2+1’’ flavors, where the current quark masses are held in a fixed ratio as the overall scale of the quark masses is varied. At nonzero temperature and baryon density it is expected that in the chiral limit the chiral phase transition is of first order. Increasing the quark mass from zero, the chiral transition becomes more weakly first order, and can end in a chiral critical point. We show that the only massless field at the chiral critical point is a σ meson, with the universality class that of the Ising model. Present day lattice simulations indicate that QCD is (relatively) near to the chiral critical point.
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