Particle Collider Recreates Primordial Soup from Early Universe

Wednesday, 09 September 2015 - 5:17PM
Astrophysics
Physics
Wednesday, 09 September 2015 - 5:17PM
Particle Collider Recreates Primordial Soup from Early Universe
In the few milliseconds after the Big Bang, the universe consisted of a quark-gluon plasma, or "quark soup," in which matter is in such an overheated, excited state that all of its bonds come undone, and there is nothing more organized than subatomic particles. As a result, it behaves as a "perfect" fluid that has virtually no friction and conducts no heat. Now, scientists working with the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) have been able to recreate tiny droplets of this primordial soup from the early universe, bringing us one step closer to simulating the conditions of the Big Bang.

In order to blast the matter into its smallest constituent parts, the RHIC smashes large nuclei together at nearly the speed of light. In this experiment, however, the researchers used smaller particles- helium and gold- and were still able to make quark-gluon plasma that flowed like a perfect fluid, which was not thought to be possible. The droplets were much smaller than experiments that used particles like lead, but were still representative of the state of the entire universe after the Big Bang.

The droplets are extremely volatile, and don't exist for long enough to have any practical application, instead just winking in and out of existence. But the ability to study different types of matter under these conditions will help us understand the state of the early universe, as well as the properties of perfect fluids.

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"The idea that collisions of small particles with larger nuclei might create minute droplets of primordial quark-gluon plasma has guided a series of experiments to test this idea and alternative explanations, and stimulated a rich debate about the implications of these findings," said University of Colorado physicist Jamie Nagle in a statement. "These experiments are revealing the key elements required for creating quark-gluon plasma and could also offer insight into the initial state characteristics of the colliding particles."
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Via Extreme Tech.
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