The Quark Matter 2018 international conference closed a few days ago in Venice. About 850 researcher from all over the world took part in the conference, which was organised by Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), with our Padova division on the forefront, together with several Italian universities.
Palazzo del Cinema was the stage of this 27th edition of Quark Matter, where the latest studies on the Quark-Gluon Plasma were reported. This is the state of matter that constituted our Universe a few microseconds after the big bang, before the particles that compose atomic nuclei formed.
In order to study this primordial state of matter, physicists use particle accelerators, as the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC), at which hundreds of Italian researchers work, coordinated by INFN. These large accelerators can collide heavy nuclei at very high energies, to reproduce conditions similar to those of the primordial Universe.
During the conference experiments at the LHC reported new measurements obtained from the analysis of data collected in the past two years. These included the first results from collisions of xenon nuclei (with mass number A=129) at the LHC and their comparison with similar measurements obtained with the larger lead nuclei (A=208).
The ALICE Colllaboration reported several results to which physicists of the Padova unit contributed and which are described in about twenty new articles. Among the most interesting and debated results there are measurements of the production of light nuclei and antinuclei and of hadrons that contain a charm quark. These measurements provide crucial insight on the interactions of different quark species with the Quark-Gluon Plasma and on the production of composite particles (hadrons and light nuclei) from the cooling and expanding Plasma.