From Symmetry Magazine: “First proton-lead collision test at the LHC successful”

For the first time, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have collided protons with lead ions, a feat that will give them insight into the quark-gluon plasma.

September 14, 2012
Signe Brewster

“For most of the year, two beams of protons run the collision course around the Large Hadron Collider. Scientists take a short break from protons in winter to collide much heavier lead ions.

In a test on Thursday, scientists collided the two types of particles together for the first time. The feat will allow physicists to better understand the conditions of the universe just after the big bang.

LHC scientists collide lead ions to create quark-gluon plasma [qgp], a hot, dense soup of quarks that are free-floating instead of being bound into particles. They study the plasma’s properties by examining the high-energy particles that emerge from collisions that produce it.

Early next year scientists will smash protons with lead ions to better understand results obtained from the lead-lead collisions. Proton-lead collisions are similar to lead-lead collisions, but they have lower energy and therefore do not produce quark-gluon plasma. Colliding protons with lead ions will help scientists determine which effects of the collisions come from the presence of lead ions and which ones come from the presence of the plasma.

‘We are all very excited that it worked so quickly,’ accelerator physicist John Jowett said. ‘This is something very new for the LHC.’

Colliding protons with lead ions was a new challenge for the CERN teams. The two LHC beam pipes are usually filled with beams composed of identical types of particles, which are accelerated to an identical energy before colliding. Colliding lead ions with protons is unusual because lead ions have very different mass and charge than protons. Both are subject to the forces of the same magnets that surround the LHC beam pipes, so their energies and frequencies of revolution around the ring are unequal. To correct the differences, the radiofrequency cavities the beams pass through are tuned to different frequencies for each of the beams.”

See the full article here. And, we look forward to more and greater results.

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