London: It looks like the big bang machine or the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is living up to its name—it is giving clues of what may be the hot, dense state of matter thought to have filled the universe in its first nanoseconds.
Researchers on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN``s LHC near Geneva, Switzerland, have observed these clues.
Quarks are generally trapped in groups of two or three by the gluons that bind them, but in the moments after the big bang, the universe was so hot that they could escape, becoming a fluid of free quarks and gluons.
A signal thought to represent this quark-gluon plasma has been seen before, following collisions between ions much heavier than the protons that the LHC smashes together.
Now the CMS detector has captured a similar signal.
Whether this really is a quark-gluon plasma is still unknown, but the CMS team hopes to pin this down.
"What is happening may be fully understood in the next few months or year," New Scientist quoted CMS spokesman Guido Tonelli as saying.
First Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 22:26