Particle physics researchers are calling it ‘color-glass condensate’ and recent observations suggest that this novel form of matter may have been created by collisions between protons and lead ions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Following collisions, the Compact Muon Solenoid team at LHC observed pairs of particles departing the collision location with surprising correlation.
‘Somehow they fly at the same direction even though it’s not clear how they can communicate their direction with one another. That has surprised many people, including us,’ says MIT physics professor Gunther Roland, whose team led the collision data analysis.
‘Color’ in the name color glass condensate refers to a type of charge that quarks and gluons carry as a result of the strong nuclear force. ‘Glass’ is borrowed from the term for silica which acts like a solid in short time scales but a liquid in long time scales. ‘Condensate’ means that the gluons have a very high density.
The observed correlation is ‘a very tiny effect, but it’s pointing to something very fundamental about how quarks and gluons are arranged spatially within a proton,’ said Raju Venugopalan, a senior scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, who was not affiliated with the research at the LHC, but has previously published research work on color-glass condensate.
Thus far, the research carried out at the LHC has also pointed to the discovery of the Higgs Boson, the elusive ‘God particle’ which flummoxed particle physicists for many years. Further investigation of proton-led collisions should determined the if these near-superluminal particles are in fact the new form of matter whose physics also apply in ultra high energy cosmic rays.
Source: CMS Collaboration (2012). ‘Observation of Long-Range Near-side Angular Correlations in Proton-lead Collisions at the LHC.’ Physics Letters B : arXiv:1210.5482v1