Potential new matter spotted at Large Hadron Collider

Chris Davies - Nov 27, 2012, 7:22 am CST
Potential new matter spotted at Large Hadron Collider

Scientists sifting proton collision data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) believe they have identified a new type of matter, revealed by the distinctive paired patterns of fleeing particles splayed after high-speed smashups. The so-called color-glass condensate was spotted by the Compact Muon Solenoid team, MIT reports, with some pairs of particles sent flying with their directions correlated in a number of LHC lead proton runs. It’s suggested that quark gluon plasma waves may be at the heart of the patterns, with the collisions causing “a liquid-like wave of gluons.”

The CMS team had been sifting through data from 2m lead-proton collisions in the LHC, but had only expected to use the results as a reference benchmark against which lead-lead collisions would be contrasted. “It was supposed to be sort of a reference run” MIT physics professor Gunther Roland who led the team said of the unexpected results, “a run in which you can study background effects and then subtract them from the effects that you see in lead-lead collisions.”

Instead, however, the results turned out to be interesting in their own right. “Somehow they fly at the same direction even though it’s not clear how they can communicate their direction with one another” Roland says. “That has surprised many people, including us.”

Quark gluon plasma – colloquially known as “quark soup” – is a theorized mixture of asymptotically free quarks and gluons, and was believed to be present in the few seconds after the Big Bang that created the universe. Color-glass condensate is said to be the surface of the walls of gluons inside a nucleus and traveling at near the speed of light, with quantum entanglement tipped to explain the shared directional information.

The results have been written up in a new paper available now, and a new run of lead-proton collision testing – set to last for several weeks, rather than the four hours of the initial tests – are planned for January.

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