heavy ion

Studying “Little Bangs”: exotic collisions probe the size of quark-gluon plasma

A new result from the ATLAS Collaboration studies the interactions of photons – particles of light – with lead nuclei at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Using new data collection techniques, physicists revealed an unexpected similarity to the experimental signatures of the quark–gluon plasma.

13th July 2021

ATLAS Live talk: How to study matter at a trillion degrees with Dr. Anne Sickles

Soon after the Big Bang, the Universe was too hot for normal matter to exist. Instead, it was made up of an extremely hot liquid of quarks and gluons: the quark-gluon plasma (QGP). In this live talk, Dr. Anne Marie Sickles explains how physicists at the ATLAS experiment are studying the QGP and what they've have learned.

5th June 2021

Z bosons zoom through quark–gluon plasma as jets quench

With new data from the LHC, ATLAS physicists have measured jet-quenching phenomena in the quark–gluon plasma with help of Z bosons.

25th August 2020

ATLAS measures light scattering on light and constrains axion-like particles

Light-by-light scattering is a very rare phenomenon in which two photons – particles of light – interact, producing another pair of photons. Direct observation of this process at high energy had proven elusive for decades, until it was first seen by the ATLAS Collaboration in 2016 and established in 2019. In a new measurement, ATLAS physicists are using light-by-light scattering to search for a hyped phenomenon beyond the Standard Model of particle physics: axion-like particles.

25th May 2020

ATLAS observes light scattering off light

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.

17th March 2019

Noble collisions give new insights on heavy ion systems

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.

24th May 2018

ATLAS studies the quark-gluon plasma using muon pairs produced by two photons

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).

19th May 2018

Noble nuclei open new doors in ATLAS physics

Take something you think you understand, change it and see what happens. Earlier this month, the ATLAS Experiment put this basic scientific principle to the test during the first Large Hadron Collider (LHC) xenon run.

31st October 2017

Photon-tagged jet quenching in the quark-gluon plasma

Collisions of lead nuclei in the LHC form the hot, dense medium known as the quark-gluon plasma (QGP). Experimentally, the QGP is characterized by the collective flow of emerging quarks and gluons. They fragment into highly collimated “jets” of particles that in turn lose energy through a phenomenon known as “jet quenching”. Studying this effect can help improve our understanding of quantum chromodynamics, the theory of the strong nuclear interaction that governs the behaviour of the QGP.

23rd October 2017

Finding a haystack in a field of haystacks

In order to produce rare physics phenomena, such as the Higgs boson or possible signs of new physics, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) collides tens of millions of protons per second. Under such conditions, around 20 simultaneous proton-proton interactions occur in each beam crossing. Thus, additional collisions called “pile-up” are recorded along with the collision of interest. Together, they form a single event for analysis.

22nd September 2017

Exploring the nature of the “ridge” in small systems

When ultra-relativistic heavy ions collide, a new state of hot and dense matter – the quark–gluon plasma (QGP) – is created. One of the key features for this state is the observation of long-range azimuthal angle correlations between particles emitted over a wide range of pseudorapidity. This phenomenon is often referred to as the “ridge”.

28th August 2017

ATLAS sees first direct evidence of light-by-light scattering at high energy

Physicists from the ATLAS experiment at CERN have found the first direct evidence of high energy light-by-light scattering, a very rare process in which two photons – particles of light – interact and change direction. The result, published today in Nature Physics, confirms one of the oldest predictions of quantum electrodynamics (QED).

14th August 2017

New ATLAS results presented at Quark Matter 2015

Heavy-ion physics is the study of the hot dense medium created shortly after the Big Bang. Physicists examine this medium in three collision systems: lead-lead, proton-lead and proton-proton collisions.

7th October 2015

Quenching jets in the hot dense matter produced by colliding lead ions

The Large Hadron Collider is known to collide protons, but for one month a year, beams of lead ions are circulated in the 27-km tunnel and made to collide in the centre of the experiments. The ATLAS experiment has made new precise measurements of the suppression of jets as they blast through the dense matter created by the lead ion collisions.

13th November 2014

New results from ATLAS at Quark Matter 2014

ATLAS has prepared a variety of new results for the Quark Matter 2014 conference using lead-lead (Pb+Pb) and proton-lead (p+Pb) data collected during Run1.

30th May 2014

ATLAS Heavy Ion Results Presented at QM 2012 in Washington, D.C.

The Quark Matter conference, which takes place every two years, is this year being organised in Washington, DC, USA on 13-18 August 2012 (QM2012). It will bring together both experimentalists and theorists from all over the world who are studying heavy ion physics at ultra high energies.

13th August 2012