MAY 29, 2021 3:25 PM PDT

First Matter in the Universe Flowed Like Tap Water

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

In two separate studies, researchers led by those at the University of Copenhagen and Queen Mary University of London found that the first-ever matter created in the Universe, known as Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP), flowed like tap water. 

QGP is a kind of matter that existed during the first microsecond of the Big Bang. While all the matter in the universe is made up of atoms, atoms are made of nuclei (protons and neutrons) and electrons. These nuclei in turn are made up of quarks that interact via gluons. 

At very high temperatures, of around a million times hotter than that of the centre of the sun, quarks and gluons break free from nuclei and form a dense, hot soup known as QGP. 

While QGP was present immediately after the Big Bang, shortly after it is thought to have separated and disappeared due to the hot expansion of the universe. These pieces of quark are then thought to have reformed into hadrons- a three-quark hadron becoming protons. 

Understanding QGP is at the forefront of high-energy physics. While the forces between quarks and gluons are described by quantum chromodynamics, one of the most comprehensive physical theories we have to date, it is difficult to understand all of the properties of QGP using this theory alone. 

By using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, researchers from the University of Copenhagen were able to recreate QGP and see how it evolved to form the cores of atoms we know today. The researchers also developed an algorithm capable of analyzing the collective expansion of more particles than ever before. 

"For a long time researchers thought that the plasma was a form of gas, but our analysis confirmed the latest milestone measurement, where the Hadron Collider showed that QGP was fluent and had a smooth soft texture like water. The new details we provide is that the plasma has changed its shape over time, which is quite surprising and different from any other matter we know and what we would have expected," says You Zhou, one of the authors of the study. 

These findings support those by researchers at Queen Mary University of London. In their research, they homed in on the viscosity and density of QGP. While they found that its viscosity and density are around 16 orders of magnitude larger than water, they found that the ratio of viscosity and density between water and QGP was very similar. As the ratio of density and viscosity is indicative of fluid flow, as stated by the Navier-Stokes equation, they said that Quark-Gluon plasma and water likely flow in the same way. 

"It is conceivable that the current result can provide us with a better understanding of the quark-gluon plasma," says Professor Vadim Brazhkin, one of the authors behind the study. "The reason is that viscosity in liquids at their minimum corresponds to a very particular regime of liquid dynamics which we understood only recently. The similarity with the QGP suggests that particles in this exotic system move in the same way as in tap water."

 

Sources: EurekAlert 05/25/2021Physics Letters BEurekAlert 05/27/2021SciPost

About the Author
University College London
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
JUN 24, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Dying Stars Could Enrich the Interstellar Medium with Carbon Nanotubes
JUN 24, 2022
Dying Stars Could Enrich the Interstellar Medium with Carbon Nanotubes
In a paper recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Physical Chemistry A, researchers at the University of Ar ...
JUN 25, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Dead Star's Cannibalism Points to Future of Our Solar System
JUN 25, 2022
Dead Star's Cannibalism Points to Future of Our Solar System
During a press conference at this summer’s American Astronomical Society meeting, a team of researchers presented ...
JUL 24, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Past, Present, and Future: Exploring Planetary Volcanism and Cryovolcanism in our Cosmos
JUL 24, 2022
Past, Present, and Future: Exploring Planetary Volcanism and Cryovolcanism in our Cosmos
Volcanoes are one of nature’s most awe-inspiring creations, giant mountains ejecting red hot lava that are both be ...
JUL 23, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Spiraled Planet-Forming Disk Found Near Galactic Center
JUL 23, 2022
Spiraled Planet-Forming Disk Found Near Galactic Center
In a recent study published in Nature Astronomy, a team of astronomers have observed a massive young star near the cente ...
AUG 16, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
Balloons Sent from the Earth Could Detect Quakes on Venus
AUG 16, 2022
Balloons Sent from the Earth Could Detect Quakes on Venus
During the Cold War, the US military launched a secret project to spy on the Soviet Union by sending microphones attache ...
AUG 27, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Looking Back in Space: NASA's Ranger Program
AUG 27, 2022
Looking Back in Space: NASA's Ranger Program
This series will explore historic space missions from the start of the Space Age to the present day, including both crew ...
Loading Comments...