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article imageLHC matter dethrones neutron star as super-dense king

By Justin Goodwins     May 25, 2011 in Science
Scientists announced this week that they have found the densest form of matter in the known universe. This exotic material may be the parent of all known matter.
This super hot form of matter was observed by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and is known as known as quark-gluon plasma. This form of matter is as dense as a neutron star, and more than 100,000 times as hot as our sun. Quark-gluon plasma may in fact be what the entire universe was made of in it’s infancy.
"Besides black holes, there's nothing denser than what we're creating," said David Evans, a physicist at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. and a team leader for the LHC's ALICE detector, which helped observe the quark-gluon plasma.
"If you had a cubic centimeter of this stuff, it would weigh 40 billion tons."
Quark-gluon plasma is made up of the exotic particles known as quarks and gluons. Quarks are the fundamental building blocks that make up the atomic cores of positively charged protons, and neutral neutrons. Gluons, named after glue, are elementary particles, which act as the exchange particles for the color force between quarks, binding them together. It is theorized, that super hot quark-gluon plasma transformed as it coalesced into the forms of matter observed today, as the universe cooled.
The LHC has received a lot of media attention, perhaps because its mission is to find out, how did our universe come to be the way it is? One of the essential ways that the LHC is trying to do this is by recreating the conditions that existed at the time of the Big Bang. Currently, the LHC is operating at only half of its maximum energy. Scientists hope that as the super-colliders energies are increased, that even denser forms of quark-gluon plasma may be observed.
According to the LHC website its missions include discovering:
What type of universe we live in?
What happened after the Big Bang?
Where is the antimatter?
Why do particles have mass?
What is our Universe made of?
The discovery of quark-gluon plasma may be a milestone that puts the scientists of the LHC one step closer to fulfilling its mission, and providing us with a deeper understanding of our universe.
More about Lhc, Big bang, Neutron stars, Science, Cern
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