Plasma Present During The Big Bang Is Recreated

Researchers at the University of Kansas, working in conjunction with an international team at the Large Hadron Collider, have managed to recreate a state of matter thought to have existed at the birth of the universe around 13.8 billion years ago. The small amount of quark-gluon plasma, dubbed “littlest liquid,” was discovered through a series of high-energy particle collisions conducted inside the supercollider’s Compact Muon Solenoid Detector, according to Science World Report.

The plasma, or QGP, is described as a “perfect liquid,” hypothesized to exist at extreme temperatures or densities most likely characteristic of the early stages of universal expansion. It can subsist for a short period of time before cooling and condensing into regular matter that forms the building blocks of life.

For some time now, physicists have been aware of the existence of QGP. In an effort to learn more about this “primordial state of matter,” experiments of a similar nature have been conducted in the past by colliding protons with lead ions. The procedure lead to the discovery of the same plasma back in 2013; however, results from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), located in Upton, New York, now reveal that the “littlest liquid” also appears after colliding gold ions with helium-3 nuclei, reports Discovery News.

This is the first time that helium-3, a light ion, has been collided with heavy ions (in this case, gold). The successful collision reveals that quark-gluon plasma can be produced at lower energies than previously thought.

According to Berndt Mueller, Associate Laboratory Director for Nuclear and Particle Physics at Brookhaven, “Physicists initially thought that only the nuclei of large atoms such as gold would have enough matter and energy to set free the quark and gluon building blocks that make up protons and neutrons. But the flow patterns detected by RHIC’s PHENIX (Pioneering High Energy Nuclear Interaction eXperiment) collaboration in collisions of helium-3 nuclei with gold ions now confirm that these smaller particles are creating tiny samples of perfect liquid QGP.”

The results of the experiment yield important data for scientists seeking to understand the atmospheric conditions that were present during the Big Bang. The study is published in APS Physics.

What’s all this talk about the Big Bang, space and plasma? Learn more about space with Space Scouts Summer Adventure: