The research board at CERN has approved a new experiment aimed at searching for light and weakly interacting particles at the Large Hadron Collider.
The Forward Search Experiment (FASER) will operate in tandem with CERN’s ongoing research programmes and will widen its scope to detect particles which could be produced parallel to the Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC) beam line: the four main detectors of the LHC are not well suited for detecting these particles, which can travel hundreds of metres before transforming into electrons or positrons. In order to better detect the light and weakly interacting particles, therefore, FASER will be placed 480 metres down the main beam trajectory; where it will be able to find the “decay products” of the particles as they travel.
Mike Lamont, co-coordinator of the Physics Beyond Collider study group, said: “This novel experiment helps diversify the physics programme of colliders such as the LHC and allows us to address unanswered questions in particle physics from a different perspective.”
FASER, a collaborative effort between 16 research institutes with support from the Heising-Simons Foundation and the Simons Foundation, will operate as part of the Physics Beyond Collider (PBC) research programme, which aims to expand the range of research potential offered by CERN’s infrastructure. It will be constructed in part from spare detector parts donated by ATLAS and LHCb, two of CERN’s seven main particle detectors.
FASER co-spokesperson Jamie Boyd said: “It is very exciting to have FASER approved for installation at CERN. It is amazing how the collaboration has come together so quickly and we are looking forward to recording our first data when the LHC starts up again in 2021.”
Among the particles to be studied by FASER are “dark photons” and other particles associated with dark matter; as well as the hypothesised neutralino, which has yet to be observed or detected by researchers. The experiment is set to be installed during the ongoing Long Shutdown 2, with data gathering projected to take place between 2021 and 2023.