Physicists working with the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research combined the results from two different experiments and stumbled across a rare particle decay process. Yet this is not the only achievement of those working at CERN. The Hadron Collider has now set a new record by smashing proton particles together at speeds of over 13 trillion electron-volts.
The discovery was published in the scientific journal Nature earlier this week and involved the joint forces of CMS and LHCb experts. The researchers noticed a particular decay process involving the Bs particle.
Bs is somewhat special: it is an extremely heavy composite particle made up of a quark and an antiquark combined into what physicists call muons.
“This is a great triumph for the LHC and both experiments,” Professor Sheldon Stone, LHCb collaboration member explains.
According to professor Stone, such a decay process only occurs in every four out of one billion so that having the opportunity of witnessing the theoretical prediction is spectacular.
Both experiments currently underway at CERN hope to find the possible cracks in the Standard Model, which physicists have adopted as the most plausible description of how matter came to be in the universe.
But the Standard Model is incomplete. Because it only addresses the issue of observable matter, questions about dark matter and antimatter remain virtually unanswered.
Finding deviations from the Standard Model, professor Stone explains, could provide scientists with valuable insight as to new particles or forces yet undiscovered.
In the meantime, the Hadron Collider is also hard at work smashing protons into each-other at unimaginable speeds. CERN released images of these collisions on the 21st of May, as protons are now finally being accelerated in the 17-mile-long Collider after a two-year hiatus.
The concept is difficult to grasp at first, especially since it doesn’t sound all that complicated. But researchers conducting the experiments, such as Greg Rakness, explain that the beauty and difficulty lies precisely in compressing the energy down to the size millions of times smaller than that of the diameter of a human hair.
Of course, smashing protons together at such speed may come with some risks. Anywhere between 100 and 1,000 billion protons are smashed together in the Hadron Collider and chances are that some of them may end up going astray. Yet the LHC’s sensitive detectors and magnets have to be protected from these “stray” particles.
These test collisions had this precise purpose in mind: they were used as a means to set up “collimators’, specific systems protecting the collider’s sensitive equipment.
Such a collimator is, for all intent and purposes, metal blocks which capture the stray protons.
Now, scientists are excited for the LHC’s new runs which are scheduled early June, when experiemnts such as CMS, ATLAS or ALICE can commence.
Image Source: esbtrib.com