At STAR and ALICE, the main area of study is with the formation of quark-gluon plasma. While these may occur when nuclei collide head on, most nuclei experience, at best, glancing collisions. Even when the nuclei miss each other completely (this is what we term "peripheral" collisions), interesting physics can be studied (such as jet quenching). We can learn much about the intense electromagnet fields present between the colliding nuclei. The great challenge for this physics program is the very large background, which exists for these events that produce very few particles.
A comparison between a central and peripheral event at the STAR experiment
Dr. Janet Seger, Dr. Chanaka De Silva and Dr. Christopher Anson are involved with this project.