Lancaster University Physicists are standing by to analyse a torrent of new data expected following the restart of the world’s largest experiment at CERN on June 3.
The giant underground Large Hadron Collider at the European Particle Physics Laboratory near Geneva has been shut down for two years to be upgraded enabling the protons hurtling around it to reach even higher energies.
Professor Roger Jones, Lancaster’s lead on the ATLAS experiment at CERN, said the new data would allow scientists to find out more about the Higgs Boson, the elusive ‘God Particle’ which was finally detected in 2012.
Professor Jones said there were still enormous discoveries to be made, from the mysteries of dark matter to hidden dimensions. The new higher energies at the LHC might also enable them to find evidence of new particles and rarer processes.
“We may find the Supersymmetric particles, which could explain why the Higgs mass is as low as it is, and also could explain the nature of the dark matter that dominates the universe, but so far we do now know what it is. We might also see signals of the extra hidden dimensions we believe exist in nature.”
“We will be able to produce Higgs bosons at a higher rate, and really explore its behaviour. We can see if it really decays into the particles we expect and at the rates we expect. If it does not, it may be a signature of new physics, including supersymmetry. It could also reveal other particles like the Higgs boson.”
The Lancaster team has a particular interest in exploring the puzzling imbalance between matter and antimatter in the universe. Without this imbalance the matter in the universe would have cancelled itself out and we would not exist.
They will be looking at the Higgs boson as it decays to heavier versions of the electron, called the tau to see if it exhibits something called CP violation which physicists believe could explain how matter came to dominate over antimatter.
Professor Jones said: “We will also be looking at CP violation in the decays of B mesons. The new tracking detector means we will be able to make really precise measurements of this, and we will have very large samples of the relevant decays.”
A generation of Lancaster scientists have worked on CERN science including alumni now working on ATLAS.