In October 2017, the ATLAS experiment recorded collisions of xenon nuclei for the first time. While massive compared to a proton, xenon nuclei are smaller than the lead ions typically collided in the LHC. The xenon-xenon collision data, combined with previous results from the analysis of lead-lead collisions, provide the first opportunity to examine heavy ion collisions in a system that is distinctly smaller in size. This allows physicists to study in detail the role of the collision geometry for observables often associated with the quark-gluon plasma.
Heavy ion collisions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) form a hot, dense medium called the quark-gluon plasma (QGP), in which the primary constituents are thought to be quarks and gluons produced in the initial interactions of the nuclei. Besides typical heavy ion collisions, where the nucleons in the colliding nuclei undergo multiple strong interactions with each other, there is also a class of “ultraperipheral” collisions. In these collisions, the nuclei are far enough apart to miss each other, but the surrounding electromagnetic field of one nucleus is able to interact both with the other nucleus (“photonuclear” interactions) and with the other electromagnetic field (“photon-photon” interactions).
The ATLAS collaboration is continuing to scour the wealth of data provided by the LHC for any signs of physics beyond the particles and interactions described by the Standard Model. One approach is to search for new forces in addition to the Standard Model’s electroweak and strong interactions. Such forces could be propagated by new massive bosons playing the role the W and Z bosons have in mediating the electroweak force.
Why is gravity so much weaker than the other forces of nature? This fundamental discrepancy, known as the “hierarchy problem”, has long been a source of puzzlement. Since the discovery of a scalar particle, the Higgs boson, with a mass of 125 GeV near that of the W and Z bosons mediating the weak force, the hierarchy problem is more acute than ever.
The ATLAS collaboration has released a set of comprehensive results that illuminate the properties of the Higgs boson with improved precision, using its decay into two photons with LHC collisions recorded at a centre-of-mass energy of 13 TeV.
What do you do when you produce more data than you can handle? This might seem like a strange question for experimental physicists, but it’s a problem that the ATLAS detector faces every day. While the LHC continues to produce ever-higher rates of proton collisions, the detector can only record data at a fixed rate. Therefore, tough choices must be made about what events to keep. This is not a decision made lightly – what if the thrown-away data contain some long-sought new particles beyond those of the Standard Model.
Discovering the Higgs boson can be likened to finding a new continent. While a momentous event in itself, the most exciting part remains the exploration of the new land! In a new result presented today at the Rencontres de Moriond, the ATLAS collaboration examined the Higgs boson decaying into two W bosons
The top quark – the heaviest known fundamental particle – plays a unique role in high-energy physics. Studies of its properties have opened new opportunities for furthering our knowledge of the Standard Model. In a new paper submitted to Physical Review D, the ATLAS collaboration presents a comprehensive measurement of high-momentum top-quark pair production at 13 TeV.
The production of top quarks in association with vector bosons is a hot topic at the LHC. ATLAS first reported strong evidence for the production of a top quark in association with a Z boson at the EPS 2017 conference. In a paper submitted to the Journal of High-Energy Physics, the ATLAS experiment describes the measurement of top-quark production in association with a W boson in 13 TeV collisions.
The Standard Model has a number of puzzling features. For instance, why does the Higgs boson have a relatively low mass? Could its mass arise from a hidden symmetry that keeps it from being extremely heavy? And what about dark matter? While the Standard Model has some (almost) invisible particles, like neutrinos, those particles can’t account for all of the dark matter observed by cosmological measurements.