CERN lab to look for long-lived, exotic particles with new experiment

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GENEVA, March 5 (Xinhua) -- The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, approved on Tuesday a new experiment designed to look for light and weakly interacting particles at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest and most powerful particle collider and the largest machine in the world.

The Forward Search Experiment (FASER) will complement CERN's ongoing physics program, extending its discovery potential to several new particles, as some of these sought-after particles are associated with dark matter.

With an expanding interest in undiscovered particles, particularly long-lived particles and dark matter, new experiments have been proposed to expand the scientific potential of CERN's accelerator complex and infrastructure as part of the Physics Beyond Collider (PBC) study, under whose aegis FASER operates.

"This novel experiment helps diversify the physics program of colliders such as the LHC, and allows us to address unanswered questions in particle physics from a different perspective," explains Mike Lamont, co-coordinator of the PBC study group.

However, the four main LHC detectors are not suited for detecting the light and weakly interacting particles that might be produced parallel to the beam line. They may travel hundreds of meters without interacting with any material before transforming into known and detectable particles, such as electrons and positrons. The exotic particles would escape the existing detectors along the current beam lines and remain undetected.

FASER will therefore be located along the beam trajectory 480 meters downstream from the interaction point within ATLAS, one of the seven particle detector experiments constructed at the LHC. Although the protons in the particle beams will be bent by magnets around the LHC, the light, very weakly interacting particles will continue along a straight line and their "decay products" can be spotted by FASER.

The potential new particles would be very collimated with the beam, spreading out very little, therefore allowing a relatively small and inexpensive detector to perform highly sensitive searches.

FASER will search for a suite of hypothesized particles including so-called "dark photons", particles which are associated with dark matter, neutralinos and others. The experiment will start taking data from LHC's Run 3 between 2021 and 2023.

The dark matter is a hypothesized kind of matter that does not interact with the electromagnetic force and consequently cannot be directly detected using emitted light. Astrophysical evidence shows that dark matter makes up about 27 percent of the universe, but it has never been observed and studied in a laboratory. Enditem

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