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In a first step, physicists accelerate atoms in the Large Hadron Collider

Physicists were not content with protons and atomic nuclei, but used a new type of particle for rotation around the world's strongest particle accelerator.

On July 25, at CERN in Geneva, the Large Hadron Collider accelerated ionized lead atoms, each of which contains a single electron filled with a lead core. Each lead atom normally has 82 electrons, but the researchers have all but one removed in the experiment and given the particles an electric charge. Previously, the LHC had only accelerated protons and nuclei without electrons being suspended.

Scientists hope that one day the LHC test can be used as a gamma ray factory. Gamma rays, a type of high-energy light, could be generated by zapping beams of ionized atoms with laser light. This light would push the electrons of the atoms into higher energy states, and the accelerated atoms would emit gamma rays if the electrons later returned to lower energy states. Existing devices generate gamma rays from electron beams, but the LHC might be capable of producing gamma rays with greater intensities.

Gamma ray stronger rays would be useful for a variety of scientific purposes, including the search for certain types of dark matter ̵

1; mysterious particles that scientists believe exist in the universe but have not yet been discovered ( SN: 11 / 12/16, p. 14 ). The gamma rays could also be used to generate other particle beams, such as heavy, electron-like particles called muons, for use in new types of experiments.

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