JUL 26, 2019 9:57 AM PDT

ALICE Collaboration Cooks Up Hot "Quark-Gluon Soup"

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

Lead-ion collisions recorded on the ALICE detector (CERN)

In a recent report, scientists at CERN's ALICE experiment announced that they conducted the first-ever measurement of the bottomonium, a type of exotic particles generated by smashing lead (Pb) ions.

So what are the bottomonium and why are scientists after them?

Let's start with neutrons and protons, the basic components of the atomic nucleus. They are made of even smaller particles known as quarks and gluons. These days, physicists can pick apart the nucleus and get pure protons and neutrons, but never quarks and gluons because the current universe is way too "cold" for the two types of elementary particles to be freed from each other.

Dialing back the clock to a few millionths of a second after the Big Bang, however, things were drastically different back then. The universe was so dense and hot that the quarks and gluons could exist freely in the soup-like quark-gluon plasma. 

Researchers at the ALICE experiment have been recreating the quark-gluon soup by smashing Pb ions together. These ions are much more massive than protons, the particles that are often smashed inside the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Hence the name "A Large Ion Collider Experiment". A heavy atom like Pb has more neutron and proton (126 and 82 for the stable isotope Pb-208). Therefore, more quarks and gluons are expected to be knocked out of its nucleus during the collision.

Flying over ALICE (ALICE/CERN)

Since there's no direct way to probe the plasma, scientists needed to use the bottomonium, a signature entity created right after the collision, as an indication. The collective motion (or flow) of the bottomonium provides scientists a lot of information about the evolution of the quark-gluon plasma. 

By observing the pairs of muons, the decayed products of bottomonium, the ALICE team was able to determine the flow of these plasma-born particles, which exhibits an elliptic shape, as a result from non-"head on" collisions. 

Through further exploring this elliptic flow of the bottomonium particles, scientists hope that they can gain more insight into the infancy of our universe.

This latest research was presented in the Annual Conference on High Energy Physics organized by the European Physical Society.
 
Source: ZME Science

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
MAR 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAR 10, 2020
(Stop) Putting Crap into Graphene Research
In a recently published study, a group of Czech Republic researchers from the puts together two materials that are unlik ...
MAR 12, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 12, 2020
Recent Data Accelerates Coronavirus SARS-CoV2 Drug Discovery
Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is a currently a human health crisis. It is not only highly infectious but results severe pneum ...
MAR 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAR 27, 2020
Hand Sanitizer Shorage: Liquor, Perfume, and Medication Producers Joined the Race to Restock the Shelves
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the habit of thorough and frequent handwashing are among the best defense against the con ...
APR 19, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
APR 19, 2020
Large Molecule Database Can Aid in Drug Discovery
Scientists have recently developed a large molecule database that can help drug development. The database called ‘ ...
APR 29, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
APR 29, 2020
New method hospitals can use to produce hydrogen peroxide
In a collaboration between the University of California San Diego, Columbia University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, ...
MAY 19, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAY 19, 2020
Our COVID Fight Now Has a Formidable "AI"ly
This March, amid the sharp rising number of COVID-19 cases, a call to action to the artificial intelligence (AI) communi ...
Loading Comments...