Using Large Hadron Collider, a team of physicists has revealed the “littlest” quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter thought to have existed right at the birth of the universe, with fewer particles than previously thought possible.
The material was discovered by colliding protons with lead nuclei at high energy inside the supercollider’s Compact Muon Solenoid detector.
Researchers at the University of Kansas working with an international team at the Large Hadron Collider have dubbed the resulting plasma as the “littlest liquid.”
Researcher Quan Wang said that before the CMS experimental results, it had been thought the medium created in a proton on lead collisions would be too small to create a quark-gluon plasma.
Wang added that these collisions were being studied as a reference for collisions of two lead nuclei to explore the non-quark-gluon-plasma aspects of the collisions, noting that the analysis presented in this paper indicates, contrary to expectations, a quark-gluon plasma can be created in very asymmetric proton on lead collisions.
The researcher described quark-gluon plasma as a very hot and dense state of matter of unbound quarks and gluons — that is, not contained within individual nucleons.
Wang said such experiments might help scientists to better understand cosmic conditions in the instant following the Big Bang.
The study is published in APS Physics.