ALICE mission

The ALICE Collaboration has built a detector optimized to study the collisions of nuclei at the ultra-relativistic energies provided by the LHC. The aim is to study the physics of strongly interacting matter at the highest energy densities reached so far in the laboratory. In such conditions, an extreme phase of matter - called the quark-gluon plasma - is formed. Our universe is thought to have been in such a primordial state for the first few millionths of a second after the Big Bang, before quarks and gluons were bound together to form protons and neutrons. Recreating this primordial state of matter in the laboratory and understanding how it evolves will allow us to shed light on questions about how matter is organized and the mechanisms that confine quarks and gluons. For this purpose, we are carrying out a comprehensive study of the hadrons, electrons, muons, and photons produced in the collisions of heavy nuclei (208Pb). ALICE is also studying proton-proton and proton-nucleus collisions both as a comparison with nucleus-nucleus collisions and in their own right. In 2021 ALICE is completing a significant upgrade of its detectors to further enhance its capabilities and continue its scientific journey at the LHC for many years to come.

Recent highlights


Recent highlights

Neutral pion and eta meson production cross sections at midrapidty were measured up to unprecedentedly high transverse momenta in proton-proton (pp) and proton-lead (p-Pb) collisions at √s_NN = 8 and 8.16 TeV, respectively. arXiv.
The beauty-quark production cross section was measured at midrapidity by the ALICE Collaboration in pp collisions at √s = 5.02 TeV through non-prompt D-meson measurements exploiting machine-learning classification techniques arXiv.
The prompt production of the charmed baryon Λc and ratios to the D mesons were measured at midrapidity with the ALICE detector in pp and p–Pb collisions at 5.02 TeV: arXiv, arXiv.

Latest ALICE Submissions

Exploring the N$Λ$-N$Σ$ coupled system with high precision correlation techniques at the LHCThe interaction of $\Lambda$ and $\Sigma$ hyperons (Y) with nucleons (N) is strongly influenced by the coupled-channel dynamics. Due to the small mass difference of the $\rm N \Lambda$ and $\rm N \Sigma$ systems, the coupling strength of the $\rm N \Sigma\leftrightarrow N \Lambda$ processes is non-negligible and constitutes a crucial element in the determination of the N$\Lambda$ interaction. In this letter we present the most precise measurements on the interaction of p$\Lambda$ pairs, from zero relative momentum up to the opening of the $\rm N \Sigma$ channel. The correlation function in the relative momentum space for $\mathrm{p}\Lambda\oplus\overline{\mathrm{p}}\overline{\Lambda}$ pairs measured in high-multiplicity triggered pp collisions at $\sqrt{s}~=~13$ TeV at the LHC is reported. The opening of the inelastic N$\Sigma$ channels is visible in the extracted correlation function as a cusp-like structure occurring at relative momentum $k^{*}$ = 289 MeV/$c$. This represents the first direct experimental observation of the $\rm N \Sigma\rightarrow N \Lambda$ coupled channel in the p$\Lambda$ system. The correlation function is compared with recent chiral effective field theory calculations, based on different strengths of the $\rm N \Sigma\leftrightarrow N \Lambda$ transition potential. A weaker coupling, as possibly supported by the present measurement, would require a more repulsive three-body NN$\Lambda$ interaction for a proper description of the $\Lambda$ in-medium properties, which has implications on the nuclear equation of state and for the presence of hyperons inside neutron stars.
Nuclear modification factor of light neutral-meson spectra up to high transverse momentum in p-Pb collisions at $\sqrt{s_{NN}}$ = 8.16 TeVNeutral pion and $\eta$ meson production cross sections were measured up to unprecedentedly high transverse momenta ($p_{\rm T}$) in p-Pb collisions at $\sqrt{s_{\rm NN}}$ = 8.16 TeV. The mesons were reconstructed via their two-photon decay channel in the rapidity interval $-1.3 < ~ y < ~0.3$ in the ranges of $0.4 < ~p_{\rm T} < ~200$ GeV/$c$ and $1.0 < ~p_{\rm T} < ~50$ GeV/$c$, respectively. The respective nuclear modification factor ($R_{\rm pPb}$) is presented for $p_{\rm T}$ up to of 200 and 30 GeV/$c$, where the former was achieved extending the $\pi^{0}$ measurement in pp collisions at $\sqrt{s}$ = 8 TeV. The values of $R_{\rm pPb}$ are below unity for $p_{\rm T} < ~10$ GeV/$c$, while they are consistent with unity for $p_{\rm T}>10$ GeV/$c$. The new data provide constraints for nuclear parton distribution and fragmentation functions over a broad kinematic range and are compared to model predictions as well as previous results at $\sqrt{s_{\rm NN}}$ = 5.02 TeV.
Measurement of beauty and charm production in pp collisions at $\sqrt{s}=5.02$ TeV via non-prompt and prompt D mesonsThe $p_\mathrm{T}$-differential production cross sections of prompt and non-prompt (produced in beauty-hadron decays) D mesons were measured by the ALICE experiment at midrapidity ($|y| < ~0.5$) in proton--proton collisions at $\sqrt{s}=5.02~\mathrm{TeV}$. The data sample used in the analysis corresponds to an integrated luminosity of $(19.3\pm0.4)~\mathrm{nb^{-1}}$. D mesons were reconstructed from their decays $\mathrm{D^0 \to K^-\pi^+}$, $\mathrm{D^+\to K^-\pi^+\pi^+}$, and $\mathrm{D_s^+\to \phi\pi^+\to K^-K^+\pi^+}$ and their charge conjugates. Compared to previous measurements in the same rapidity region, the cross sections of prompt $\mathrm{D^+}$ and $\mathrm{D_s^+}$ mesons have an extended $p_\mathrm{T}$ coverage and total uncertainties reduced by a factor ranging from 1.05 to 1.6, depending on $p_\mathrm{T}$, allowing for a more precise determination of their $p_\mathrm{T}$-integrated cross sections. The results are well described by perturbative QCD calculations. The fragmentation fraction of heavy quarks to strange mesons divided by the one to non-strange mesons, $f_\mathrm{s}/(f_\mathrm{u}+f_\mathrm{d})$, is compatible for charm and beauty quarks and with previous measurements at different centre-of-mass energies and collision systems. The $\mathrm{b\overline{b}}$ production cross section per rapidity unit at midrapidity, estimated from non-prompt D-meson measurements, is $\mathrm{d}\sigma_\mathrm{b\overline{b}}/\mathrm{d} y|_\mathrm{|y| < ~0.5} = 34.5 \pm 2.4 (\mathrm{stat.}) ^{+4.7}_{-2.9} (\mathrm{tot. syst.})~\mu\mathrm{b}$. It is compatible with previous measurements at the same centre-of-mass energy and with the cross section predicted by perturbative QCD calculations.
Measurements of mixed harmonic cumulants in Pb-Pb collisions at $\mathbf{\sqrt{{\textit s}_{\rm NN}}}=5.02$ TeVCorrelations between moments of different flow coefficients are measured in Pb-Pb collisions at $\sqrt{s_{\rm NN}} = 5.02$ TeV recorded with the ALICE detector. These new measurements are based on multiparticle mixed harmonic cumulants calculated using charged particles in the pseudorapidity region $|\eta| < ~0.8$ with the transverse momentum range $0.2 < ~ p_{\rm T} < ~ 5.0$ GeV/$c$. The centrality dependence of correlations between two flow coefficients as well as the correlations between three flow coefficients, both in terms of their second moments, are shown. In addition, a collection of mixed harmonic cumulants involving higher moments of $v_2$ and $v_3$ is measured for the first time, where the characteristic signature of negative, positive and negative signs of four-, six- and eight-particle cumulants are observed, respectively. The measurements are compared to the hydrodynamic calculations using iEBE-VISHNU with AMPT and TRENTo initial conditions. It is shown that the measurements carried out using the LHC Run 2 data in 2015 have the precision to explore the details of initial-state fluctuations and probe the nonlinear hydrodynamic response of $v_2$ and $v_3$ to their corresponding initial anisotropy coefficients $\varepsilon_2$ and $\varepsilon_3$. These new studies on correlations between three flow coefficients as well as correlations between higher moments of two different flow coefficients will pave the way to tighten constraints on initial-state models and help to extract precise information on the dynamic evolution of the hot and dense matter created in heavy-ion collisions at the LHC.
First measurement of the ${\mathbf{|\textit t|}}$-dependence of coherent $\mathbf{\rm{J/ψ}}$ photonuclear productionThe first measurement of the dependence on $|t|$, the square of the momentum transferred between the incoming and outgoing target nucleus, of coherent J/$\psi$ photoproduction is presented. The data were measured with the ALICE detector in ultra-peripheral Pb-Pb collisions at a centre-of-mass energy per nucleon pair $\sqrt{s_{\rm NN}} = 5.02$ TeV with the J/$\psi$ produced in the central rapidity region $|y| < ~0.8$, which corresponds to the small Bjorken-$x$ range $(0.3-1.4)\times10^{-3}$. The measured $|t|$-dependence is not described by computations based only on the Pb nuclear form factor, while the photonuclear cross section is better reproduced by models including shadowing according to the leading-twist approximation, or gluon-saturation effects from the impact-parameter dependent Balitsky-Kovchegov equation. This new observable is therefore a valid tool to constrain the relevant model parameters and to investigate the transverse gluonic structure at very low Bjorken-$x$.
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Diversity and Inclusivity in ALICE

The ALICE Collaboration embraces and values the diversity of its team members and colleagues. We are committed to fostering an inclusive environment for all people regardless of their nationality/culture, profession, age/generation, family situation and gender, as well as individual differences such as but not limited to ethnic origin, sexual orientation, belief, disability, or opinions provided that they are consistent with the Organization’s values.


News of cards

The new Muon Forward Tracker, one of ALICE’s main sub-detectors, was installed in the cavern in December 2020.

The upgraded ALICE Miniframe was reinstalled in the experimental cavern in November

The refurbished TPC was lowered into the ALICE cavern and installed in the experiment in August 2020.