The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment is one of the four main experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — the world’s largest particle accelerator, housed underground near the France-Switzerland border near Geneva.
The experiment, which consists of a roughly 69 feet long and a 50 feet wide detector located 300 feet below the ground, was crucial in the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012.
This week, the experiment was given a major upgrade — one that scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) likened to an “open-heart surgery.” On Thursday, engineers at CERN finished the installation of a new “pixel tracker” — a detector that is a key part of CMS’ particle tracking system.
“The heart of the CMS experiment is the pixel detector, the innermost instrument in the very heart of the CMS apparatus, the very point where new particles, such as the Higgs boson, are produced by the energy of the proton proton collisions of the LHC accelerator,” CERN explained in a press release.
“With thousands of silicon sensors, the new Pixel Tracker is now being upgraded to improve the particle-tracking capabilities of CMS.” The upgrade would allow the detector to record over 120 million pixels at 40 million frames per second.
The particles are varied, high-energy forms of the Omega-c baryon—a subatomic particle made up of three smaller building blocks called quarks. Until now, physicists suspected but had not been able to verify the existence of the different forms of the Omega-c baryon.
While the Omega-c baryon has been more mysterious, scientists know more about other baryons, the most common of which are neutrons and protons.
These particles, along with their component quarks, are glued together by the nuclear “strong force,” which keeps the atom in tact.
Quarks come in six “flavors”: up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom. Neutrons and protons contain up and down quarks.
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