HTML5The MoEDAL experiement publishes the first search for magnetic monopoles produced in strong magnetic fields in heavy-ion collisions

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Limits on the mass of magnetic monopoles could be established for the first time, as the production cross section for the Schwinger mechanism is calculable nonperturbatively. Several models beyond the Standard Model of Physics predict monopoles with low-enough masses to be detectable at the LHC, and in most of these models the monopoles have composite structure, as opposite to the point-like object of Dirac-like monopoles. But production of composite monopoles is expected to be exponentially suppressed in elementary particle collisions conducted previously. The Schwinger mechanism of production in heavy-ion collisions is not subject to this suppression, so this is the first search at the LHC where composite monopoles could be realistically produced. LHC collisions of Pb ions produced the strongest magnetic fields in the known universe, stronger than in magnetars, so our limits are stronger than the ones inferred from astrophysical and other sources

Nature, 602, 63-67 February 2, 2022

The experiment

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MoEDAL (Monopole and Exotics Detector at the LHC), the 7th experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is designed to search for manifestations of new physics through highly ionising particles in a manner complementary to ATLAS, CMS and LHCb. The most important motivation for the MoEDAL experiment is to pursue the quest for magnetic monopoles and dyons at LHC energies. In addition, the experiment is designed to search for any massive, stable or long-lived, slow-moving particle with single or multiple electric charges that arise in various scenarios of physics beyond the Standard Model.

The MoEDAL detector is deployed around the intersection region at Point 8 of the LHC in the LHCb experiment Vertex Locator cavern. It is a unique and largely passive LHC detector comprised of four sub-detector systems. It combines passive nuclear track detectors with magnetic monopole trapping volumes, while spallation-product backgrounds are being monitored with an array of MediPix pixel detectors.

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In addition,upgrades to the MoEDAL detector consisting of two new subdetectors: MAPP (MoEDAL Apparatus for Penetrating Particles) now being prototyped at IP8; and MALL (MoEDAL Apparatus for very Long-Lived particles), will extend the reach of MoEDAL to the dark matter sector. MAPP will search for neutral long-lived particles that decay visibly in the detector and for milli-charged particles giving rise to anomalously low ionization. MALL, on the other hand, will be sensitive to decay products of new charged, massive and extremely long-lived particles, with lifetimes well in excess of a year by monitoring the MoEDAL trapping volumes.

The IFIC group

IFIC Valencia officially joined MoEDAL in 2012 and signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2016 together with most of the other MoEDAL institutes. The IFIC group is one of the founding members of the Collaboration and is the sole Spanish participation in the experiment. The group plays a key role in various aspects of the experiment, such as simulation, analysis, theoretical models and management.