What can we learn from the energy dependence of strangeness production at RHIC?

Jeff Speltz

The measurement and study of strangeness (K$^0_S$, $\Lambda$, $\Xi$ and $\Omega$) has been of particular interest especially since possible differences in stangeness production with energy have been suggested as a potential signature for the onset of the formation of a QGP. We discuss an excitation function of strangeness production from the lower energies (SPS) to the highest RHIC energies. The experimental yields, spectra and elliptic flow are compared to statistical and hydrodynamical models in order to discuss to what extent they are applicable and to gain insight into the production mechanisms as well as chemical and dynamical properties of the created medium, such as strangeness saturation and freeze-out temperatures.