From Niels Bohr Institute [Niels Bohr Institutet] (DK): “Study reveals new details on what happened in the first microsecond of Big Bang”

Niels Bohr Institute bloc

From Niels Bohr Institute [Niels Bohr Institutet] (DK)


University of Copenhagen [Københavns Universitet] [UCPH] (DK)

21 May 2021

You Zhou
Associate Professor
Niels Bohr Institute
University of Copenhagen
+45 41 86 02 05

Ida Eriksen
The Faculty of Science
University of Copenhagen
+45 93 51 60 02

Illustration of Big Bang. Credit: Getty Images.[False picture]

About 14 billion years ago our universe changed from being a lot hotter and denser to expanding radically – a process that scientists have named “The Big Bang”.

And even though we know that this fast expansion created particles, atoms, stars, galaxies and life as we know it today, the details of how it all happened are still unknown.

Now a new study [Physics Letters B] performed by researchers from University of Copenhagen reveals insights on how it all began.

“We have studied a substance called Quark-Gluon Plasma that was the only matter, which existed during the first microsecond of Big Bang. Our results tell us a unique story of how the plasma evolved in the early stage of the universe,” explains You Zhou, Associate Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

“First the plasma that consisted of quarks and gluons was separated by the hot expansion of the universe. Then the pieces of quark reformed into so-called hadrons. A hadron with three quarks makes a proton, which is part of atomic cores. These cores are the building blocks that constitutes earth, ourselves and the universe that surrounds us,” he adds.

From fluent and smooth to the strong building blocks of life.

The Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP) was present in the first 0.000001 second of Big Bang and thereafter it disappeared because of the expansion. But by using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, researchers were able to recreate this first matter in history and trace back what happened to it.

“The collider smashes together ions from the plasma with great velocity – almost like the speed of light. This makes us able to see how the QGP evolved from being its own matter to the cores in atoms and the building blocks of life,” says You Zhou.

“In addition to using the Large Hadron Collider, the researches also developed an algorithm that is able to analyze the collective expansion of more produced particles at once, than ever possible before. Their results show that the QGP used to be a fluent liquid form and that it distinguishes itself from other matters by constantly changing its shape over time.

“For a long time researchers thought that the plasma was a form of gas, but our analysis confirm 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.

Iconic view of the European Organization for Nuclear Research [Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire] [Europäische Organisation für Kernforschung](CH) (EU) [CERN] ATLAS detector

European Organization for Nuclear Research [Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire] [Europäische Organisation für Kernforschung](CH) (EU) [CERN] CMS

The illustration shows the expansion of The Universe – Big Bang – that consisted of a soup of Quark-Gluon plasma in the first microsecond (see left side). After that, protons and neutrons were formed and later atoms, stars and galaxies (see the right side). Illustration: M. WEISS/ National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/Chandra X-ray Center (US).

One step closer to the truth about Big Bang

Even though this might seem like a small detail, it brings us one step closer to solving the puzzle of the Big Bang and how the universe developed in the first microsecond, he elaborates.

“Every discovery is a brick that improves our chances of finding out the truth about Big Bang. It has taken us about 20 years to find out that the Quark-Gluon Plasma was fluent before it changed into hadrons and the building blocks of life. Therefore our new knowledge on the ever changing behavior of the plasma, is a major breakthrough for us,” You Zhou concludes.

QGP has been the subject of much work at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider [RHIC] at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (US).

[caption id="attachment_31050" align="alignnone" width="474"] DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (US)/Relative Heavy Ion Collider (US).

See the full article here .


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Niels Bohr Institute Campus

Niels Bohr Institutet (DK) is a research institute of the Københavns Universitet [UCPH] (DK). The research of the institute spans astronomy, geophysics, nanotechnology, particle physics, quantum mechanics and biophysics.

The Institute was founded in 1921, as the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the Københavns Universitet [UCPH] (DK), by the Danish theoretical physicist Niels Bohr, who had been on the staff of the University of Copenhagen since 1914, and who had been lobbying for its creation since his appointment as professor in 1916. On the 80th anniversary of Niels Bohr’s birth – October 7, 1965 – the Institute officially became The Niels Bohr Institutet (DK). Much of its original funding came from the charitable foundation of the Carlsberg brewery, and later from the Rockefeller Foundation.

During the 1920s, and 1930s, the Institute was the center of the developing disciplines of atomic physics and quantum physics. Physicists from across Europe (and sometimes further abroad) often visited the Institute to confer with Bohr on new theories and discoveries. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is named after work done at the Institute during this time.

On January 1, 1993 the institute was fused with the Astronomic Observatory, the Ørsted Laboratory and the Geophysical Institute. The new resulting institute retained the name Niels Bohr Institutet (DK)).

Københavns Universitet (UCPH) (DK) is the oldest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479 as a studium generale, it is the second oldest institution for higher education in Scandinavia after Uppsala University (1477). The university has 23,473 undergraduate students, 17,398 postgraduate students, 2,968 doctoral students and over 9,000 employees. The university has four campuses located in and around Copenhagen, with the headquarters located in central Copenhagen. Most courses are taught in Danish; however, many courses are also offered in English and a few in German. The university has several thousands of foreign students, about half of whom come from Nordic countries.

The university is a member of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), along with University of Cambridge (UK), Yale University, The Australian National University (AU), and UC Berkeley, amongst others. The 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks the University of Copenhagen as the best university in Scandinavia and 30th in the world, the 2016-2017 Times Higher Education World University Rankings as 120th in the world, and the 2016-2017 QS World University Rankings as 68th in the world. The university has had 9 alumni become Nobel laureates and has produced one Turing Award recipient.