Scientists at the world’s largest atom smasher have made a precise tally of the jumbled cascade of particles produced when two proton beams are smashed together. The results could help researchers discover new types of particles, akin to the now-famous Higgs boson.

Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland sent two beams of protons hurtling in opposite directions and crashed them together at the highest energy level yet achieved at the LHC. The research is part of the CMS experiment, which stands for Compact MuonSolenoid. For each of the 150,000 proton-proton collisions the researchers identified, about 22 charged particles (hadrons) were produced.

The scientists wanted to create a snapshot of a “typical” collision between two proton beams, which could help the researchers sift through background noise for signs of new effects. Previous models to make predictions for detecting new particles rely on estimates with an uncertainty of 30 to 40 percent, which could be problematic for detecting rare particles, the researchers said. [Beyond Higgs: 5 Elusive Particles That May Lurk in the Universe]

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