Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

High-energy Large Hadron Collider results published

By Jason Palmer
Science and technology reporter, BBC News

Particle interaction simulation (SPL)
The "extra" particles may make spotting the Higgs boson harder

The results from the highest-energy particle experiments carried out at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in December have begun to yield their secrets.

Scientists from the LHC's Compact Muon Solenoid detector has now totted up all of the resulting particle interactions.

They wrote in the Journal of High Energy Physics that the run created more particles than theory predicted.

However, the glut of particles should not affect results as the experiment runs to even higher energies this year.

The LHC is designed to smash together particles and atoms circling its 27km-tunnel in a bid to find evidence of further particles that underpin the field of physics as it is currently formulated.

The December announcement of particle beam energies in excess of one trillion electron volts made the LHC the world's highest-energy particle accelerator.

Particle particulars

That makes the new results a unique look at the field of high-energy physics. The experiments, smashing protons into each other, produced a few more subatomic particles known as pions and kaons than the team was expecting.

"The level is somewhat higher than the most popular models had predicted, and it looks like it is going to increase with energy a little bit more steeply than we expected," said Gunther Roland, a CMS collaboration scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

"I think it's not going to be a problem, but it is one of the many things that we need to know as we move toward searches for the most rare particles and new physics," Professor Roland told BBC News.

He added that the "extra" particles will be more of an issue when, later in 2010, the LHC dedicates itself to collisions involving ions of the element lead, a markedly heavier pair of targets resulting in an even larger array of particles on impact.

"We'll know much more about that in two or three months when we look at the next higher energy of 7 TeV (trillion electron volts)."

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