The CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) breaks a new record and recreates a moment in time that last existed theoretically at the birth of the universe, momentarily after the Big Bang.
LHC smashed together lead-ions at 1045 trillion electron-volts, energies twice as large as anything seen previously. Temperatures of several trillion degrees were reached, about a quarter of a million times those at the core of the Sun. The high energy collisions reveal the state of matter that existed shortly after the Big Bang took place, a state of quark-gluon plasma.
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Scientists at CERN are aiming to examine the state of matter that was present just after the Big Bang took place.
“Early in the life of our universe, for a few millionths of a second, matter was a very hot and very dense medium – a kind of primordial ‘soup’ of particles, mainly composed of fundamental particles known as quarks and gluons,” the press release states.
That matter was a far cry from what is present in today’s “cold universe.”
“In today’s cold universe, the gluons ‘glue’ quarks together into the protons and neutrons that form bulk matter, including us, as well as other kinds of particles.”
By increasing the energy of the lead-ion collisions, the LHC increased the volume and temperature of the “soupy matter,”quark and gluon plasma. The scientists were able to reach a temperature of several trillion degrees.
Shields up! CERN testing superconductor for spaceship radiation deflector http://t.co/TbUxDXXlQN pic.twitter.com/vwnLeEk7eP
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The specialists put the heavy-ion beams into collision on November 17, and declared them stable days later. The four large LHC experiments – Atlas, CMS, LHCb and ALICE – will all take data from the experiment.
#RestartLHC Large Hadron Collider at @CERN fired up after 2-year break http://t.co/CwmfQ1lrbJpic.twitter.com/9WHOwet56z — RT (@RT_com) April 6, 2015
Early in the life of our universe, for a few millionths of a second, matter was a very hot and very dense medium – a kind of primordial ‘soup’ of particles, mainly composed of fundamental particles known as quarks and gluons. In today’s cold Universe, the gluons “glue” quarks together into the protons and neutrons that form bulk matter, including us, as well as other kinds of particles.
“There are many very dense and very hot questions to be addressed with the ion run for which our experiment was specifically designed and further improved during the shutdown,” said ALICE collaboration spokesperson Paolo Giubellino. “For instance, we are eager to learn how the increase in energy will affect charmonium production, and to probe heavy flavour and jet quenching with higher statistics. The whole collaboration is enthusiastically preparing for a new journey of discovery.”
Increasing the energy of collisions will increase the volume and the temperature of the quark and gluon plasma, allowing for significant advances in understanding the strongly-interacting medium formed in lead-ion collisions at the LHC. As an example, in season 1 the LHC experiments confirmed the perfect liquid nature of the quark-gluon plasma and the existence of “jet quenching” in ion collisions, a phenomenon in which generated particles lose energy through the quark-gluon plasma. The high abundance of such phenomena will provide the experiments with tools to characterize the behaviour of this quark-gluon plasma. Measurements to higher jet energies will thus allow new and more detailed characterization of this very interesting state of matter.
“The heavy-ion run will provide a great complement to the proton-proton data we’ve taken this year,” said ATLAS collaboration spokesperson Dave Charlton. “We are looking forward to extending ATLAS’ studies of how energetic objects such as jets and W and Z bosons behave in the quark gluon plasma.”
The LHC detectors were substantially improved during the LHC’s first long shutdown. With higher statistics expected, physicists will be able to look deeper at the tantalising signals observed in season 1.
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