The very first seconds of the universe were jam-packed with a boiling, very much hot inferno. It was filled with thick plasma: a soup-like flame, made up of some of the tiniest particles in the cosmos. Astonishingly, physicists at Large Hadron Collidor have reconstructed a substance that they reflect is very alike to this early universe plasma. Albeit, just the smallest drop. The drop of plasma was produced in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It is made up of two kinds of subatomic particles: gluons and quarks. Quarks are the main building constituents of particles like protons and neutrons, while gluons are in charge of the strong interaction force between quarks. This recently produced quark-gluon plasma is the hottest liquid that has ever been produced in a laboratory at 4 trillionoC (7 trillionoF). Similar to the plasma, the one at the birth of the universe.
The plasma was generated after a collision between a lead nucleus and a proton. The physicists had always assumed that this collision wouldn't yield enough particles (nearly 1,000) to produce a plasma. An impact between two lead nuclei, for contrast, is known to create plasma but generates twenty times more particles (nearly 25,000) following collision. However, the outcomes challenged their expectations. Yen-Jie Lee, from the Michigan Institute of Technology (MIT), said “This is the first paper that clearly shows multiple particles are correlated to each other in proton-lead collisions, similar to what is observed in lead-lead collisions where quark-gluon plasma is produced. This is probably the first evidence that the smallest droplet of quark-gluon plasma isp roduced in proton-lead collisions.” This new research looks at particle physics with a new viewpoint.
Instead of counting discrete numbers of particles, the plasma forces physicists to look at the behavior of a volume of particles as a whole. There is also a theory that this plasma reproduces the conditions of the early universe. Wang continued “It’s believed to correspond to the state of the universe shortly after the Big Bang,” This plasma is quite different from other quark-gluon plasma that have been produced before now.
The interactions in this plasma are tremendously strong, which separates it from other plasmas which interact rarely (like gas particles). This is what makes the scientists think it might be similar to the plasma created at the beginning of the universe.