Physicists at Large Hadron Collider discover three new exotic particles

A corridor containing part of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

A corridor containing part of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
PhotoVALENTIN FLAURAUD / AFPGetty Images

pphysicists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider today announced thatthe discovery of three exotic particles that could help reveal how quarks bind together.

One particle is a pentaquark (a hadron made up of five quarks) and the other two are tetraquarks. They were found by the LHCb collaboration at CERN, which uses a 5,600-ton detector on part of the Large Hadron Collider to investigate differences between matter and antimatter.

Last year the collaboration found the first double charm tetraquark, the longest-lived exotic matter particle found to date. The newly discovered particles contribute to the collaboration’s running list of exotic particles.

“The more analyzes we do, the more species of exotic hadrons we find,” said Niels Tuning, an LHCb physics coordinator, in a CERN release† “We are witnessing a period of discovery similar to the 1950s when a ‘particle zoo’ of hadrons was discovered and eventually led to the quark model of conventional hadrons in the 1960s. We are creating ‘particle zoo 2.0’.”

Hadrons are highly interacting subatomic particles made up of quarks and antiquarks. Your known protons and neutrons are both hadrons; they are each made up of three quarks.

Quarks come in six flavors (up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom), which can combine in different ways to make up unique particles.

For example, the recently discovered pentaquark is made of strange, up, down and charm quarks, as well as a charm antiquark. It’s the first known pentaquark to contain a strange quark. The two new tetraquarks are a pair: one is doubly charged, and the other is its neutral partner.

Side-by-side illustrations of the two newly discovered tetraquarks.

“Finding new kinds of tetraquarks and pentaquarks and measuring their properties will help theorists develop a unified model of exotic hadrons, the exact nature of which is largely unknown,” LHCb spokesperson Chris Parkes said in the CERN release. “It will also help to better understand conventional hadrons.”

Ten years ago yesterday, the existence of the Higgs boson was confirmed, and physicists at the LHC continue to find new particles. Sixty six hadrons have been discovered at the accelerator so far, and the LHCb is responsible for 59 of them. The LHC’s third run started todayand physicists expect the high-energy collisions to yield even better data to unpack the hidden foundations of our universe.

And in addition to the new particles emerging from the collisions, there is plenty of useful data to collect. “The search for new particles isn’t even half of everything we do at the LHC,” Freya Blekman, a particle physicist at the University of Hamburg and a contributor to the CMS and FCC-ee collaborations, told Gizmodo in a video call. last week . “We’re also doing a lot of studies on how matter sticks together and how these known nuclear forces work at a much more detailed level.”

With the high-luminosity Large Hadron Collider on the horizon, the future of particle physics is as bright as ever.

More: 10 years after the Higgs boson, what’s the next big thing for physics?

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