Elusive and mysterious particles make their mark for the first time at the Swiss particle accelerator

Elusive and mysterious particles make their mark for the first time at the Swiss particle accelerator

Researchers have discovered potential neutrinos using a particle accelerator. A new beginning.

Neutrinos are everywhere: they are one of the most abundant subatomic particles in the universe. However, they have no charge and almost no mass. This means that they do not react strongly with ordinary matter. Right now, billions of them are traveling through your body without you even noticing. It is not for nothing that they are called “ghost particles”. But now, for the first time, these elusive and mysterious particles are making their mark on the Swiss particle accelerator.

More about the Swiss particle accelerator

The Swiss Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest particle accelerator. It is an underground particle accelerator built on the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. Simply put, the Large Hadron Collider is just over a 27 kilometer ring. In that ring, the protons are accelerated, almost reaching the speed of light. Then the particles collide with each other. When protons collide, new particles are formed. Some of these particles are still unknown to scientists. Hopefully, these unknown particles will give us more insight into how the universe works.

Researchers now have in New study Potential neutrinos were first discovered using the Swiss Large Hadron Collider (LHC). He’s a huge teacher and a great first. “Before this project, neutrinos had never used a particle accelerator,” researcher Jonathan Feng explains. “This major breakthrough is a step toward developing a deeper understanding of these elusive particles and the role they play in the universe.”

A pressurized emulsion reagent was installed at the LHC a few years ago. This consists of lead and tungsten plates that alternate with layers of emulsion. During particle experiments at the Swiss particle accelerator, neutrinos can collide with cores of lead and tungsten plates. This results in particles that leave traces in the layers of the emulsion. From this, researchers can glean information about the particle’s energies, their “flavors” (as far as we know, neutrinos come in three “flavors”: muon, electron, and tau) and whether they are neutrinos, or antineutrinos.

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photography style
To make it more understandable, emulsion decorators actually work in a similar way to photography in the pre-digital camera era. When 35 mm film is exposed to light, the photons leave traces that appear as patterns as the film is developed. Similarly, the researchers were able to see neutrino interactions after removing the detector’s emulsion layers and “developing” them.

During the experiment, the researchers recorded six “neutrino interactions” in the layers of the emulsion. This provides the research team with important information. “First, it was verified that the device’s position at the ATLAS interaction point (the largest of the six LHC detectors called ATLAS, editor) was the correct location to detect neutrino collisions,” said researcher Jonathan Feng. “Second, we’ve shown that we can monitor neutrino interactions with an emulsion detector.”

The emulsion detector is located 480 m from the ATLAS reaction point. The study found this to be a good site for detecting neutrinos from particle collisions. Photo: CERN

bigger version
The emulsion reagent used was relatively small in size, weighing only 29 kg, for example. However, after the research showed that the method works, the team plans to build a larger version. The goal is for the future gadget to weigh about 1,100 kilograms. “This tool will be much larger and significantly more sensitive,” says Feng. For example, researchers hope that this larger version will be able to distinguish between different flavors of neutrinos and discover their antineutrino counterparts. This is a huge step forward. In all of human history, there have been only 10 observations of tau neutrinos alone. But researchers expect to double or even triple that in the next three years.

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“Given the power of the new detector, we expect to record more than 10,000 neutrino interactions,” said researcher David Kasper. “We will discover the most energetic neutrinos that have ever appeared from a man-made source.”

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