It’s often said that in its earliest moments the universe was in a hot, dense state. While that’s a reasonably accurate description, it’s also quite vague. What exactly was it that was hot and dense, and what state was it in? Answering that question takes both complex theoretical modeling and high-energy experiments in particle physics. But as a recent study shows, we are learning quite a bit.
According to particle physics and the standard cosmological model, matter appeared within the first microsecond of the universe. This initial matter is thought to be a dense soup of quarks interacting in a sea of gluons. This state of matter is known as a Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP). The behavior of QGP is governed by the strong force, following the laws of quantum chromodynamics (QCD). While we understand QCD relatively well, the mathematics of the theory is so complex it is difficult to calculate. Even with supercomputers, it’s hard to compute the state of dense quark-gluon interactions.
A look inside ALICE at the Large Hadron Collider. ALICE is one of the LHC’s four particle detectors. Image: CERN/LHC
The alternative is to use the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Smash particles together at nearly the speed of light, and you can create a quark-gluon soup for a brief moment in time. The ALICE Collaboration looked at these types of collisions to study not only the state of QGP but also how the plasma transitions to form hadrons. The two most common types of hadrons are protons and neutrons, which make up the nuclei of atoms.
One of their surprising discoveries is that quark-gluon plasma does not behave like a dense gas, similar to other plasmas. Instead, QGP acts as a dense liquid more analogous to water. As a result, its overall density is more smooth. This difference is subtle, but it could hold keys to understanding the critical shift that likely occurred in the early universe.
In the standard cosmological model, the early universe underwent a dramatic phase change to transform into the universe we see today. Before the QGP period, the universe had a period of exponential expansion. Almost instantly the observable universe expanded by a factor of 1026 and cooled by a factor of 100,000. This expansion and supercooling ushered in the QGP period, so understanding its fluid behavior helps us study that transitional period.
There is still much to learn about the early universe. Studies such as these from the ALICE collaboration are crucial to our understanding. They push the very limits of high-energy physics and continue to overturn our expectations.
Reference: Acharya, S., et al. “Measurements of mixed harmonic cumulants in Pb–Pb collisions at sNN= 5.02 TeV.” Physics Letters B (2021): 136354.
The post What Happened Moments After the Big Bang? appeared first on Universe Today.
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Juice is Fully Deployed. It’s Now in its Final Form, Ready to Meet Jupiter’s Moons in 2031
Launched on April 14, 2023, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice; formerly known as JUICE) spacecraft has finally completed the unfurling of its solar panel arrays and plethora of booms, probes, and antennae while en route to the solar system’s largest planet.
However, Juice’s first six weeks in space haven’t been so smooth, as its Radar for Ice Moons Exploration (RIME) antenna became stuck and unable to deploy, but the engineers successfully deployed RIME after working the problem for over a month. The RIME unit is deemed as “mission critical” since its purpose is to map underneath the icy crusts of Jupiter’s three icy worlds: Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
“It’s been an exhausting but very exciting six weeks,” said Angela Dietz, who is the deputy spacecraft operations manager for the Juice mission. “We have faced and overcome various challenges to get Juice into the right shape for getting the best science out of its trip to Jupiter.”
The unfurling of the booms and antennae are crucial as they house either some or all of Juice’s 10 instruments, which comprise various scientific packages: the remote sensing package, the in situ package, and the geophysical package. Along with these incredible instruments, Juice will also be conducting an experiment known as the Planetary Radio Interferometer & Doppler Experiment (PRIDE), whose goal will be to use very-long baseline and ground-based interferometry to accurately measure Juice’s velocity and location in space.
This incredible cache of instruments will be responsible for exploring Jupiter while conducting 35 flybys of Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, which are each hypothesized to contain bodies of liquid water beneath their icy crusts. Aside from the moons, Juice will also conduct further examinations of the entire Jupiter system, as scientists hypothesize this could help paint a clearer picture of gas giant exoplanets—and possible exomoons that have yet to be detected—that continue to be discovered throughout the galaxy.
Of the 10 Juice instruments, three stand out as some of the most important to the mission. These include the previously discussed RIME antenna, which will be responsible for mapping the interior environments of these icy worlds; the JANUS optical camera instrument, which will be able to capture images in 13 different colors, ranging from violet light to near infrared, and will be imaging Jupiter’s innermost Galilean moon, Io, as well; and the Radio & Plasma Wave Investigation (RPWI) instrument, which will be responsible for producing the first-ever 3D map of Jupiter’s electric fields and the interactions between Jupiter’s massive magnetosphere and the icy worlds of Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
Cutaway illustration depicting the interior of Europa. Mapping this interior will be one of the goals of the Juice mission using its RIME antenna. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Michael Carroll)
Artist rendition of Jupiter’s enormous magnetic field. Producing the first-ever 3D map of Jupiter’s electric fields and the interactions between Jupiter’s massive magnetosphere and its icy worlds will be one of the goals of the Juice mission using its RPWI instrument. (Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
“Our 3D design strategy makes it possible to measure true physical observables, such as energy and momentum, without resorting to theories or simulations to interpret the data,” said Jan Bergman, who is a Senior Scientists at the Swedish Institute
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15 Great Backpacking Trips You Can Still Take in 2023
By Michael Lanza
So you didn’t plan months in advance to reserve a permit for backpacking this summer in Glacier, Yosemite, on the Teton Crest Trail, Wonderland Trail, or John Muir Trail or in another popular national park? Or you applied for a permit but got rejected? Now what? Where can you still go this year?
You’re in luck. This story describes 15 backpacking trips you can still plan and take this year—either because they don’t require a permit reservation or, in the case of Yosemite, North Cascades, and Olympic national parks, you can still obtain a backcountry permit reservation for many summer dates and trails, where one is required.
Six of them are in top-tier national parks, and the others are all multi-day wilderness hikes with national park-caliber scenery. They all possess qualities that make them stand out in personal memory among the countless adventures I’ve enjoyed over the past three-plus decades, including the 10 years I spent as Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog.
Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.
A backpacker hiking the Shannon Pass Trail, Wind River Range, WY.
” data-image-caption=”My wife, Penny, backpacking the Shannon Pass Trail in Wyoming’s Wind River Range.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Wind8-049-My-wife-Penny-backpacking-toward-Shannon-Pass-Wind-River-Range-WY..jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Wind8-049-My-wife-Penny-backpacking-toward-Shannon-Pass-Wind-River-Range-WY..jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1″ decoding=”async” width=”900″ height=”600″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Wind8-049-My-wife-Penny-backpacking-toward-Shannon-Pass-Wind-River-Range-WY..jpg?resize=900%2C600&ssl=1″ alt=”A backpacker hiking the Shannon Pass Trail, Wind River Range, WY.” class=”wp-image-58505″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Wind8-049-My-wife-Penny-backpacking-toward-Shannon-Pass-Wind-River-Range-WY..jpg?resize=1024%2C683&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Wind8-049-My-wife-Penny-backpacking-toward-Shannon-Pass-Wind-River-Range-WY..jpg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Wind8-049-My-wife-Penny-backpacking-toward-Shannon-Pass-Wind-River-Range-WY..jpg?resize=768%2C512&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Wind8-049-My-wife-Penny-backpacking-toward-Shannon-Pass-Wind-River-Range-WY..jpg?resize=150%2C100&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Wind8-049-My-wife-Penny-backpacking-toward-Shannon-Pass-Wind-River-Range-WY..jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />My wife, Penny, backpacking the Shannon Pass Trail in Wyoming’s Wind River Range.
If you don’t want to miss your opportunity to get into the wilderness this year, scroll through this list and start the gears turning to make one of these trips happen. You know that you’ll be glad you did.
Each trip described below includes a link to my full story about it, which
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Starship | First Integrated Flight Test | Recap
Starship gave us quite a show during the first flight test of a fully integrated Starship (S24) and Super Heavy rocket (B7) from Starbase in Texas.
On April 20, 2023 at 8:33 a.m. CT, Starship successfully lifted off from the orbital launch pad for the first time. The vehicle cleared the pad and beach as Starship climbed to an apogee of ~39 km over the Gulf of Mexico – the highest of any Starship to-date.
With a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and we learned a tremendous amount about the vehicle and ground systems today that will help us improve on future flights of Starship.
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