The team that runs CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), or the world’s largest particle smasher, reported Tuesday that they had found a new type of subatomic particle – the pentaquark.
The pentaquark was just a theory for more than 50 years, but this year it is the first time that scientists hold solid evidence of its existence. However, the findings couldn’t have been possible if the LHC hadn’t been upgraded earlier this year.
Before the upgrade, the machine was able to reveal another elusive particle that had been puzzling scientists for decades, the Higgs Boson, or the “God particle.”
LHC investigator Guy Wilkinson explained that the pentaquark aligns quarks, or the ultra tiny particles that make up neutrons and protons, in specific patterns that scientists hadn’t even dreamed about in the last 50 years.
‘Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we’re all made, is constituted.’
added Mr. Wilkinson.
Protons and neutrons contain three quarks, while the elusive mesons or subatomic particles contained in cosmic rays have four quarks. But the pentaquark is a pattern of five quarks joined together. This particle was first envisioned by physicists George Zweig and Murray Gell-Mann in 1964.
Since then, scientists sought the particle, but only the current technology could have revealed it. Mr. Wilkinson said that the LHC team knew that they found a five-quark subatomic particle when they saw an unusual “bump” among graphs of billions of other particle collisions.
The team said that they had no other way of explaining the “bump” but through a pentaquark. However, they first have to draft a scientific paper on it, submit it to a journal, and let the scientific community have the last word on it.
CERN’s 17-mile-long LHC located underneath the Franco-Swiss border has provided scientists with heaps of data on subatomic particles since its release date in 2010. The Higgs boson, which was confirmed in 2012, took the scientific community by storm.
Currently, LHC researchers seek new insights into Universe’s dark matter and other layers of matter hidden under what we can see or perceive with astronomical instruments.
As a follow-up, LHC scientists plan to continue their hunt for five-quark particles and find out more about their nature. They hope that new insights may help them even understand how the matter within our bodies is bound together and what internal processes are triggered when a star dies.
Mr. Wilkinson said that the team found two pentaquarks. One was confirmed, while the second is more elusive. But the researcher thinks that there are many more “out there.”
Image Source: BBC
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