Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has successfully made the transition to collisions using lead ions, instead of lighter protons, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, Cern, announced 8 November. The collision of the much heavier lead ion particles resulted in temperatures a million times hotter than those at the centre of the sun, and tiny quantities of matter called quark-gluon plasma which is believed to have existed micro-moments after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.
The LHC collides beams of particles going in opposite directions in a 27km-long circular tunnel straddling the Geneva-France border. Until 4 November the beams of particles were of protons. It took only four days to make the transition to lead ion beams, Cern said.
Lead ions are lead atoms stripped of their electrons. The collision of lead ion beams will allow scientists to study the origins of the strong nuclear force which binds particles together.