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Welcome to the Experimental Particle Physics Group

The Ghent Experimental Particle Physics Group belongs to the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The Experimental Particle Physics research group at Ghent University studies the fundamental building blocks of matter. We are active in different fields: astroparticle physics (through the IceCube and SoLid experiments), theoretical studies in cosmic rays and accelerator physics with the LHC through the CMS Experiment. Our research is concentrated on four topics:

High Energy Physics

The largest particle accelerator ever built, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Switzerland, has concluded the first data-taking period at the beginning of 2013. By colliding protons at a centre of mass energy of 8 TeV, the facility has accomplished the major task of providing evidence of a particle consistent with the long-sought Higgs boson, that was the last missing piece of our comprehensive picture of fundamental forces and particles, called the Standard Model. At the same time, many inquiries in physics beyond the Standard Model have been conducted, to unravel the nature of dark matter, the origin of the matter/antimatter imbalance and the features of the quark-gluon plasma, among the others. A large amount of important results have been obtained during the first three years of LHC data-taking, spanning from high-precision measurements to much improved limits on possible new physics at certain energy scales. In 2013 and 2014, the machine faced a major upgrade that almost doubles the centre of mass energy by the beginning of 2015. This upgrade involves both upgrading many components of the accelerator itself (to permit a safe, high-intensity and high-energy new regime) as upgrading the detection systems of the experiments observing the proton collisions, to allow for higher precision measurements on particles produced in the centre of collisions.

In 2007 our group joined the CMS collaboration. In 2014, the group efforts are directed in both refining the analysis of LHC data taken in 2011 and 2012, and in commissioning the CMS detector for a smooth restart in 2015.

High Energetic Cosmic Radiation

Cosmic radiation contains particles at very high energies. So far, it is unclear how these high energies are achieved. Neutrinos are fundamental particles that do not have an electric charge, and consequently are not deflected by galactic magnetic fields. Because of this property, neutrinos are a good messenger of black holes, gamma-ray bursts (GRB) or supernova remnants. By analysing fluxes of neutrinos, we can gain insight into the nature of dark matter objects like weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) or other supersymmetric particles.

The IceCube experiment is set up at the South Pole, where neutrinos are detected after interacting with the antarctic ice. The research carried out by the University of Ghent for this group is divided into two primary areas. The group is involved in the search for tau neutrinos with the IceCube detector, and also investigates the domain between the knee and the ankle of the energy spectrum of cosmic rays by analysing the data obtained using the IceTop detector, which lies directly on top of the IceCube detector array. Recently, the group was involved in the development of potential new detectors for the experiment.

Our group is a member of the IceCube collaboration since 2005.

Neutrino Physics: SoLid Experiment

The SoLid collaboration aim to solve the reactor anomaly, where the flux of neutrinos close to nuclear reactors is measured to be lower than expected from calculations. A possible reason for this deficit is that the neutrinos are transforming into a new fundamental particle, the sterile neutrino, which is not detected. By deploying a segmented detector close to a nuclear reactor core, the SoLid experiment would be able to detect or rule out such a neutrino conversion.

Particle and Astroparticle Physics Theory

The theoretical research interests in our group span from hadronic diffraction in high-energy QCD processes to mathematical properties and phenomenology of non-minimal Higgs sectors and flavor symmetries . We are interested in the physics of astrophysical plasmas, radiation and cosmic-ray acceleration in the shocks of galactic sources - such as Super Novae, microquasars and x-binary jets - and extragalactic sources like gamma-ray bursts and Active Galactic Nuclei jets.