At the world’s largest atom smasher, scientists have discovered a mysterious, primeval particle that dates back to the dawn of time.
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, in Geneva, near the Swiss city of Geneva, was used to detect the short-lived “X” particles for the first time (the European Organization for Nuclear Research).
Quark-gluon plasma, created in the LHC by smashing lead ions together, contained these X particles that may have been around for a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. Scientists want to develop the most precise picture yet of the universe’s origins by studying the primordial X particles in greater detail. Physical Review Letters reported their findings on January 19.
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CERN’s CMS collaboration member Yen-Jie Lee, an experimental particle physicist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a statement, “This is just the start of the story,” “We’ve demonstrated that we can detect a signal. We plan to use the quark-gluon plasma in the next few years to study the X particle’s internal structure, which could have a profound impact on our understanding of the universe’s composition.”
In the early moments after the Big Bang, when the universe was a superheated soup of trillions of degrees of plasma teeming with quarks and gluons, scientists discovered the first X particles. These first elementary particles then cooled and combined to form the more stable protons and neutrons we know today.
Some of these X particles had collided with each other just prior to this rapid cooling, and the result was an extremely short-lived collider particle. The structure of the X particle is still a mystery to scientists, who have no idea how fundamental particles come together to produce it. That’s why it’s so important for scientists to find out what type of particles were most prevalent in the universe’s first moments.
As part of an effort to replicate the chaotic primordial soup of the early cosmos, researchers at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) blasted positively charged lead particles into one other at great speed, smashing them to produce thousands more particles in an instantary burst. That was a breeze. Data from 13 billion collisions of head-on was the most difficult to filter through in order to locate the X particles.
“Theoretically speaking, there are so many quarks and gluons in the plasma that the production of X particles should be enhanced,” Lee added. Because of the abundance of other particles in this quark soup, people assumed it would be impossible to find them.”
There was at least one thing the scientists could build on. When it comes to X particles, scientists have no idea of their structure. But they do know that the “daughter” particles they produce should zip off across a very different range of angles than those produced by other particles, and this is what they’re looking for. The researchers were able to use this information to develop an algorithm that was able to identify dozens of X particles.
Turner, B., & @. (2022, January 25). ‘X Particle’ From the Dawn Of Time Detected Inside the Large Hadron Collider | Live Science. livescience.com. https://www.livescience.com/x-particle-spotted-inside-lhc.