In its early moments, matter in space was in the form of an extreme quark-gluon plasma. New research confirms that this substance does not resemble a gas as it was originally thought, but rather is a liquid. Analyzes also show that quark-gluon plasma changes shape over time and differs from other forms of matter.
The universe has been around for about 13.8 billion years. However, cosmologists are so interested in the first moments of the universe’s existence that the peculiarity of the Big Bang has changed into a somewhat more understandable substance. We have a rough idea of what was going on at the time, but we’re still missing the details and maybe some basic things.
Ant Zou of the Danish Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen and colleagues studied the quark-gluon plasma, which appears to be the only form of matter found during the first microseconds after the Big Bang. After a few moments, the quark-gluon plasma again disappeared, expanding the universe to spew out hadrons and other particles that make up the universe today.
At CERN, the Large Hadron Collider at LHC was able to reconstitute the quark-gluon plasma after 13.8 billion years, so we can study the oldest apparent form of matter in the universe. According to Zhou, the quark-gluon plasma is formed in the LHC during the intense particle collision, and then we can observe its evolution over time, similar to what happened after the Big Bang.
Universe evolution. Credit: NASA / CXC / M. Weiss.
In addition to the enthusiastic use of the most expensive tool on Earth, Zhou and colleagues developed an advanced algorithm for particle collision analysis in the LHC. Their results showed that the original quark-gluon plasma was in liquid form and that it differs from other forms of matter by constantly changing its shape.
This is a relatively large reversal of the original idea that quark-gluon plasma must be in the form of a gas. However, as it turns out, this material has a smooth and silky texture, like water. According to Chu, the changes in plasma shape are very surprising. They hadn’t expected anything like this. Search results expand the mosaic of knowledge of the Big Bang, which remains a fascinating mystery of our time.