19 May 2011

Christian Holm Christensen receives Steno grant for CERN-research

Particle physicist Christian Holm Christensen, postdoc in the ALICE Group within the Discovery Center at the Niels Bohr Institute, has received a grant of 3½ million kroner to research lead ion collisions in the LHC-accelerator at CERN. 

The strong nuclear forces are in focus of the reseach with the collisions of heavy lead ions in the LHC-accelerator. Since 2009 the 27 km long particle accelerator has collided either protons or heavy nuclei at speeds close to the speed of light. In the collisions the particles of the nuclei, protons and neutrons, are dissolved into their even smaller parts, the elementary particles, quarks and gluons.

Researching the primordial universe

Today quarks and gluons are bound very tightly in neutrons and protons, but in the first millionth of a second after the Big Bang they were free in a kind of hot and energy-dense quark-gluon plasma. By smashing the nuclei you can recreate this state and study the forces that bind them and hold them in the nuclear particles and in that way learn more about the fundamental building blocks and forces of nature.

"What is new is that we are going to try to collide protons with heavy lead nuclei and study the billions of tracks created by the collisions in the ALICE-detector. By comparing this with lead-lead collisions we hope to be able make major discoveries about the strong forces of nature and the very early universe”, explains Christian Holm Christensen.

The Steno Grant is awarded by the Danish Council for Independent Research, Natural Sciences, FNU under the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation. The grant of nearly 3½ million kroner is for conducting an independent research project for 4 years.