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Wits physicists help Collider quest for new particle

December 18th, 2015
Local scientists are exploring the possible discovery of a new particle with the help of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland.

New results from the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization of Nuclear Research (CERN) have scientists exploring the possibilities of yet another new particle.

The tantalizing hints of a new particle beyond the known Standard Model of Particle Physics were reported independently by the ATLAS and CMS experiments and announced on Tuesday, 15 December 2015.

Wits University researchers are deeply involved at CERN and also contributed to the discovery of the Higgs boson three years ago.


The discovery of the Higgs boson, an elusive particle that is responsible for the generation of mass of known elementary particles, was announced on 4 July 2012 – almost five decades after it was postulated.

“With the discovery of the Higgs boson a new window of opportunity has opened to discover new particles and interactions in nature. These may help us understand many unresolved mysteries, such as where most of the matter in the Universe comes from, among others,” says Professor Bruce Mellado from the Wits School of Physics.

Now, following a two-year shutdown for re-commissioning, the Large Hadron Collider restarted earlier this year.  It also provides an insight of what happened right after the Big Bang via the study of collisions of heavy ions at high energies.

In June 2015 it has resumed in providing proton-proton collisions for physics data at a record energy of 13 TeV (1012 eV). The Higgs boson was discovered with data collected at 7 TeV and 8 TeV.

Then on 25 November 2015, the first heavy ion collisions at a record energy of more than 1 PeV (1015 eV) were provided.

The results following the data analysis by the ATLAS and CMS experiments bears witness of the excellent readiness of the experiments to collect, distribute and analyze vast amounts of data in a short period of time.

“Getting these exciting results from LHC Run two depended on understanding the early measurements at this new center-of-mass energy, where the Wits group played a significant role,” says Dr Deepak Kar of the Wits School of Physics.

“The amount of data delivered in 2015 is a glimpse of what will be delivered next year. New data is expected to be delivered starting at the end of April 2016, leading to a data sample significantly bigger than obtained in 2015. This data set will give an invaluable insight on whether we will have new discoveries or not,” says Mellado.

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