lundi 21 novembre 2016

Smallest LHC experiment has cosmic outing












CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.


Nov. 21, 2016

Roughly once a year, the smallest Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment, LHC-forward (LHCf), is taken out of its dedicated storage on the site near the ATLAS experiment, reinstalled in the LHC tunnel, and put to use investigating high-energy cosmic rays.

Whereas ATLAS and the three other main LHC experiments – CMS, ALICE and LHCb – study all particles produced in collisions no matter in which direction they fly out, LHCf measures the debris thrown in the ‘very forward’ direction.

These forward particles carry a large amount of the collision energy, and barely change their trajectories from the direction of the initial colliding beam.  This makes them ideal for understanding the development of showers of particles produced when high-energy cosmic rays strike the atmosphere.

“The idea behind the LHCf experiment is to help increase our learning about the nature of high-energy cosmic rays, by measuring and interpreting the properties of the secondary particles released when these cosmic rays collide with the Earth’s atmosphere,” explains Lorenzo Bonechi, who leads a team for the LHCf collaboration in Florence, Italy.

The experiment’s two detectors are installed 140 metres either side of the ATLAS collision point. They are not suitable to be used during normal LHC operations, and so have to wait until the machine is running with very few collisions –corresponding to a low luminosity . If the luminosity is too high, the larger number of forward, high-energy particles can heat the detector and cause permanent damage.


Image above: LHCf is the smallest of the six official LHC experiments. Each of the two detectors weighs only 40 kilograms and measures 30 cm long by 60 cm high and 10 cm wide. (Image: Lorenzo Bonechi/ CERN).

LHCf has been reinstalled near the ATLAS detector several times. This year, the experiment only installed one detector, which is taking data during this month’s heavy-ion run, where the LHC is colliding protons with lead ions. The asymmetrical nature of the collisions means one detector would be bombarded with the remnants of the lead nuclei and could be damaged.

The amount of debris which is thrown in the forward direction during collisions in the LHC  and the energy carried by these particles can be compared with the predictions of hadronic interaction models – sophisticated physics models that describe collisions between protons and nuclei and the list of particles produced in these interactions.

“Over previous runs we’ve found significant discrepancies between our data and the most advanced hadronic interaction models, which are used to model how cosmic rays shower down onto the earth when they interact with our atmosphere. LHCf is trying to find evidence that could help prove which of these models provide the most reliable description.  Now, scientists working in this field are making an effort to integrate our results into their models, and we might see a revolution in them in the near future,” says Bonechi.

The run with lead ions and protons began on 10 November 2016 with low intensity and low energy collisions (5.02 TeV) specifically for the ALICE detector to take measurements. But now it has ramped up to colliding the beams at 8.16 TeV, and LHCf has already collected several million particles and will continue its data taking in the coming days.

Note:

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.

The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 22 Member States.

Related links:

LHC-forward (LHCf): http://home.cern/about/experiments/lhcf

Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC): http://home.cern/topics/large-hadron-collider

ALICE experiments: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/experiments/alice

ATLAS experiments: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/experiments/atlas

CMS experiments: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/experiments/cms

LHCb experiments: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/experiments/lhcb

For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Visit: http://home.cern/

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Harriet Kim Jarlett.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

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