Scientists search for mysterious ‘ghost’ particles – 03/26/2024 – Science

Scientists search for mysterious ‘ghost’ particles – 03/26/2024 – Science


Physicists have long suspected that the mysterious “ghost” particles that surround us could help advance our understanding of the true nature of the Universe.

Now scientists believe they have found a way to prove whether these particles exist or not.

The European particle research center, Cern, has approved an experiment designed to find evidence of their existence.

The new instrument will be a thousand times more sensitive to these particles than previous devices.

It will smash particles against a hard surface to detect them, rather than against each other, like CERN’s main device, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — the world’s largest particle accelerator. .

What are ‘ghost’ particles?

But, after all, what are these “ghost” particles and why was a new approach needed to detect them?

The current theory of particle physics is called the standard model.

She says that everything in the Universe is made up of a family of 17 particles, some well-known such as the electron and the Higgs boson, as well as the lesser-known charm quark, tau neutrino and gluons.

Some are mixed in different combinations to form the larger but still incredibly small particles that make up the world around us, as well as the stars and galaxies we see in space, while others are involved in the forces of nature.

But there’s a problem: Astronomers have noticed things in the heavens — the way galaxies move, for example — that strongly suggest that everything we can observe represents just five percent of the Universe.

Some, or even all of the rest of the Universe, may be made up of “ghost” or “hidden” particles. They are believed to be “doppelgangers” (lookalikes) ghosts of the 17 particles of the standard model.

If they exist, they are really difficult to detect because they very rarely interact with the world we know. Like ghosts, they pass through everything and cannot be detected by any terrestrial device.

But the theory is that particles can, very rarely, disintegrate into Standard Model particles, and these can be found by detectors. The new instrument increases the chances of detecting these disintegrations, considerably increasing the number of collisions.

Instead of colliding particles, as most current experiments do, the Search for Hidden Particles (SHiP) will collide them into a large block of material. This means that all the particles are broken into smaller pieces — instead of just some of them.

The project’s lead ghostbuster, Andrey Golutvin, a professor at Imperial College, London, said the experiment “marks a new era in the search for hidden particles.”

“SHiP has the unique possibility of solving several of the major problems in particle physics, and we have the prospect of discovering particles that have never been seen before,” he said.

Hunting for ghost particles requires specially adapted equipment.

With normal experiments, using the Large Hadron Collider, for example, new particles can be detected within one meter of the collision.

But ghost particles can remain invisible and travel dozens or even hundreds of meters before disintegrating and revealing themselves. Therefore, SHiP detectors will be able to locate at a much greater distance.

‘We are explorers’

Professor Mitesh Patel, from Imperial College, described the new approach as “ingenious”.

“What really appeals to me about this experiment is that these particles are right under our noses, but we’ve never been able to see them because of the way they interact, or rather, the way they don’t interact.”

“We are explorers and we believe we can see something interesting in this new terrain. So we have to take a look.”

SHiP will be built within existing facilities at Cern, according to Claudia Ahdida, a physicist at Cern.

“We will use an existing cave and infrastructure and parts that we will try to reuse as much as possible and what we will have is a facility that will help us search for this hidden sector, which has never been seen before.”

SHiP will run alongside all of Cern’s other experiments, the largest of which is the Large Hadron Collider, which has been searching for the missing 95% of the Universe since it was completed in 2008 at a cost of £3.75 billion ( around R$23.5 billion). So far no particles outside the Standard Model have been found and therefore the plan is to build a machine three times larger and much more powerful.

The Future Circular Collider (FCC), a new super collider presented by researchers in Switzerland, has an estimated initial cost of £12 billion (around R$75 billion).

The planned start-up date of this equipment is in the mid-2040s, although it will not reach its full particle-hunting potential until 2070.

In contrast, the SHiP experiment is scheduled to start looking for new particles in 2030 and will be around a hundred times cheaper, costing around £100 million.

But researchers say all approaches are important to explore all possible options, to find the particles they say would lead to one of the biggest advances in physics ever.


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