Dipole magnets are probably the best-known source of magnetic fields. They consist of a north and south pole; while one end magnetically attracts, the opposite repels. If you cut a magnet in half, you are left with two magnets, each with its own north and south pole. This apparent absence of an isolated magnetic pole - or “magnetic monopole” - has puzzled physicists for more than a century. It would seem perfectly natural for this particle to be present in our universe; Maxwell’s equations would reflect complete symmetry between electricity and magnetism if particles with magnetic charge were observed. So far the mystery remains: while every known particle in our universe is either electrically charged or neutral, none have been found to be magnetically charged.
Today, at the Large Hadron Collider Physics (LHCP) conference in Puebla, Mexico, and at the SUSY2019 conference in Corpus Christi, USA, the ATLAS Collaboration presented numerous new searches for SUSY based on the full Run-2 dataset (taken between 2015 and 2018), including two particularly challenging searches for electroweak SUSY. Both target particles that are produced at extremely low rates at the LHC, and decay into Standard Model particles that are themselves difficult to reconstruct. The large amount of data successfully collected by ATLAS in Run 2 provides a unique opportunity to explore these scenarios with new analysis techniques.
The High-Luminosity upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC) is scheduled to begin colliding protons in 2026. This major improvement to CERN’s flagship accelerator will increase the total number of collisions in the ATLAS experiment by a factor of 10. To cope with this increase, ATLAS is preparing a complex series of upgrades including the installation of new detectors using state-of-the-art technology, the replacement of ageing electronics, and the upgrade of its trigger and data acquisition system.
One of the most complete theoretical frameworks that includes a dark matter candidate is supersymmetry. Dark matter is an unknown type of matter present in the universe, which could be of particle origin. Many supersymmetric models predict the existence of a new stable, invisible particle - the lightest supersymmetric particle (LSP) – which has the right properties to be a dark matter particle. The ATLAS Collaboration has recently reported two new results on searches for an LSP where it exploited the experiment’s full “Run 2” data sample taken at 13 TeV proton-proton collision energy. The analyses looked for the pair production of two heavy supersymmetric particles, each of which decays to observable Standard Model particles and an LSP in the detector.
The Higgs boson was discovered in 2012 by the ATLAS and CMS experiments, but its rich interaction properties (its coupling to other particles) have remained a puzzle. Thanks to an unprecedented amount of Higgs bosons produced at the LHC, all of the main Higgs boson production and decay modes have now been observed.
At the Rencontres de Moriond (La Thuile, Italy), the ATLAS Collaboration presented an updated measurement of ttH production in the diphoton channel. The result examines the full Run 2 dataset – 139 fb-1 collected between 2015 and 2018 – to observe ttH production in a single channel with a significance of 4.9 standard deviations.
Today, at the Rencontres de Moriond conference (La Thuile, Italy), the ATLAS collaboration released evidence for the simultaneous production of three W or Z bosons in proton–proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The W and Z bosons are the mediator particles of the weak force – one of the four known fundamental forces – which is responsible for the phenomenon of radioactivity as well as an essential ingredient to our Sun's thermonuclear process.
Light-by-light scattering is a very rare phenomenon in which two photons – particles of light – interact, producing again a pair of photons. The ATLAS Collaboration has reported the observation of light-by-light scattering with a significance beyond 8 standard deviations.
Could a Grand Unified Theory resolve the remaining mysteries of the Standard Model? If verified, it would provide an elegant description of the unification of SM forces at very high energies, and might even explain the existence of dark matter and neutrino masses. ATLAS physicists are searching for evidence of new heavy particles predicted by such theories, including a neutral Z’ gauge boson.
For several decades, particle physicists having been trying to better understand Nature at the smallest distances by colliding particles at the highest energies. While the Standard Model of particle physics has successfully explained most of the results that have arisen from experiments, many phenomena remain baffling. Thus, new particles, forces or more general concepts must exist and – if the history of particle physics is any indication – they could well be revealed at the high-energy frontier.