The new ‘pixel tracker’ of the Large Hadron Colosser (LHC) installed a few months ago is already demonstrating its capabilities. CERN scientists they have been able discover traces of neutrino candidates in collisions inside the machine, six to be exact.
Normal in air and space, but unusual in the LHC
Neutrinos are very common particles in our universe. As you read this, millions of neutrinos are passing through your body without you noticing. These subatomic particles are uncharged, have little mass, and travel at nearly the speed of light in the cold, empty universe.
But everything changes when we go from our environment to the one reached inside the LHC, with extremely high temperatures and collisions of elementary particles. Jonathan Feng, one of those responsible for the experiments that have made this possible, describes how particles have been collided in sheets of tungsten and lead so that leave a detectable trace on intermediate emulsion sheets.
Detecting neutrinos under these conditions (from hadron degradation) is extremely unusual, and They are of a type of which not much is known yet. Studying the reactions and the energies released from these impacts can help us understand the fundamental pillars of the universe.
And this does not end here: in addition to the goal of detecting 10,000 neutrino interactions in 2022, the next step in this progress is to detect the hypothetical dark photons. And if we can detect them, we could lay the foundations to be able to spotting traces of dark matter itself for the first time. Therefore, we have just taken a very big step to better understand the cosmos around us.
Image | Jeremy Bezanger