The strangeness signal in hadron production at relativistic energy
- Strangeness enhancement is discussed as a feature specific to relativistic nuclear collisions which create a fireball of strongly interacting matter at high energy density. At very high energy this is suggested to be partonic matter, but at lower energy it should consist of yet unknown hadronic degrees of freedom. The freeze-out of this high density state to a hadron gas can tell us about properties of fireball matter. The hadron gas at the instant of its formation captures conditions directly at the QCD phase boundary at top SPS and RHIC energy, chiefly the critical temperature and energy density.