Experiments using heavy ions at CERN1’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are advancing understanding of the primordial Universe. The ALICE, ATLAS and CMS collaborations have made new measurements of the kind of matter that probably existed in the first instants of the Universe. They will present their latest results at the 2012 Quark Matter conference, which starts today in Washington DC. The new findings are based mainly on the four-week LHC run with lead ions in 2011, during which the experiments collected 20 times more data than in 2010.
Just after the Big Bang, quarks and gluons – basic building blocks of matter – were not confined inside composite particles such as protons and neutrons, as they are today. Instead, they moved freely in a state of matter known as ‘quark–gluon plasma’. Collisions of lead ions in the LHC, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, recreate for a fleeting moment conditions similar to those of the early Universe. By examining a billion or so of these collisions, the experiments have been able to make more precise measurements of the properties of matter under these extreme conditions.
“The field of heavy-ion physics is crucial for probing the properties of matter in the primordial Universe, one of the key questions of fundamental physics that the LHC and its experiments are designed to address. It illustrates how in addition to the investigation of the recently discovered Higgs-like boson, physicists at the LHC are studying many other important phenomena in both proton–proton and lead–lead collisions,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer.
At the conference, the ALICE, ATLAS and CMS collaborations will present more refined characterizations of the densest and hottest matter ever studied in the laboratory – 100,000 times hotter than the interior of the Sun and denser than a neutron star.
ALICE will present a wealth of new results on all aspects of the evolution in both space and time of high-density strongly interacting matter. Important studies deal with “charmed particles”, which contain a charm or anti-charm quark. Charm quarks, 100 times heavier than the up and down quarks that form normal matter, are significantly decelerated by their passage through quark–gluon plasma, offering scientists a unique tool to probe its properties. ALICE physicists will report indications that the flow in the plasma is so strong that the heavy charmed particles are dragged along by it. The experiment has also observed indications of a thermalization phenomenon, which involves the recombination of charm and anti-charm quarks to form “charmonium”.
“This is only one leading example of the scientific opportunities in reach of the ALICE experiment,” said Paolo Giubellino, spokesperson of the ALICE collaboration. “With more data still being analysed and further data-taking scheduled for next February, we are closer than ever to unravelling the properties of the primordial state of the Universe: the quark–gluon plasma.”
In the 1980s, the initial dissociation of charmonium was proposed as a direct signature for the formation of quark–gluon plasma, and first experimental indications of this dissociation were reported from fixed-target experiments at CERN’s Super Proton Synchrotron in 2000. The much higher energy of the LHC makes it possible for the first time to study similar tightly-bound states of the heavier beauty quarks. The hypothesis was that, depending on their binding energy, some of these states would “melt” in the plasma produced, while others would survive the extreme temperature. The CMS experiment now observes clear signs of the expected sequential suppression of the “quarkonium” (quark–antiquark) states.
“CMS will present important new heavy-ion results not only on quarkonium suppression, but also on bulk properties of the medium and on a variety of studies of jet quenching,” said Joseph Incandela, the CMS Spokesperson. “We are entering an exciting new era of high-precision research on strongly interacting matter at the highest energies produced in the laboratory.”
The quenching of jets is the phenomenon in which highly energetic sprays of particles break up in the dense quark–gluon plasma, giving scientists detailed information about the density and properties of the produced matter. ATLAS will report new findings on jet quenching, including a high-precision study of how the jets fragment in matter, and on the correlations between jets and electroweak bosons. The results are complementary to other exciting ones, including groundbreaking findings on the flow of the plasma.
“We have entered a new phase in which we not only observe the phenomenon of quark–gluon plasma, but where we can also make high-precision measurements using a variety of probes,” said Fabiola Gianotti, the ATLAS spokesperson. “The studies will contribute significantly to our understanding of the early Universe.”
Find out more:. Quark Matter 2012 conference
CERN press office | Newswise Science News
Subnano lead particles show peculiar decay behavior
25.04.2018 | Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald
Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor
25.04.2018 | American Institute of Physics
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Information Technology