Large Hadron Collider Finds Three Never-Before-Seen Particles

Scientists have discovered evidence of three previously unseen quark combinations in data from Europe's Large Hadron Collider. This discovery coincides with the start of a new phase of high-energy experiments at the largest particle smasher in the world.

The three unusual particle types, which include two tetraquarks, which are combinations of four quarks, and a pentaquark, which is a unit of five quarks, are entirely consistent with the Standard Model, the long-standing theory that explains the structure of atoms.

On the other hand, scientists are hoping that evidence of physics beyond the Standard Model will be found during the current run of the LHC to help explain the nature of enigmatic phenomena like dark matter. Evidence of this kind may indicate the existence of new subatomic particle arrays or even extra dimensions in our universe.

For three years, the LHC was offline as it underwent system upgrades to accommodate previously unheard-of energy levels. Scientists and engineers at the CERN research centre on the French-Swiss border have been preparing for the today's resumption of scientific operations since the shutdown ended in April.

As the LHC started its third run of data collection and analysis, the control centre at CERN was busy.

Fabiola Gianotti, the director general of CERN, stated during today's webcast, "It's a magic moment now." "A new era of exploration at CERN has begun with the collisions we recently witnessed at an unprecedented energy of 13.6 tera-electronvolts.”

According to Gianotti, the scientists working on the third run of the LHC hope to gather just as much data as they did during the collider's two earlier runs, which spanned 13 years. Naturally, this will improve our chances of making discoveries or learning the underlying principles governing the universe, the speaker stated.

During Run 3, the 27-kilometer-round (17-mile-round) ring of superconducting magnets and its particle detectors are expected to run continuously for almost four years.

The run began today, ten years and one day after physicists at the LHC revealed their most significant finding to date: proof of the existence of the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that contributes to the understanding of mass.

These three new subatomic particle types are not quite Higgs-level discoveries, as explained in a CERN seminar today. However, they do imply that the LHC is actively searching for even more hitherto undiscovered universe building blocks.

To study hadrons, which are collections of quarks, the Large Hadron Collider smashes protons together at speeds very near to light.

According to a press release, Niels Tuning, the physics coordinator for the collider's LHCb detector, "the more analyses we perform, the more kinds of exotic hadrons we find."

We are living through a similar era of discovery as the 1950s, when hadrons were first found in a "Particle Zoo," which eventually produced the quark model of conventional hadrons in the 1960s. Our project is called "Particle Zoo 2.0."

Researching novel quark combinations, according to LHCb spokesperson Chris Parkes, "will help theorists develop a unified model of exotic hadrons, the exact nature of which is largely unknown."

Most hadrons aren't that unusual. For example, protons and neutrons are composed of three bonded quarks. (In actuality, the phrase "Three quarks for Muster Mark!" from James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake is where the word "quark" first appeared.) Pions are mixtures of two quarks.

Much rarer are combinations of four and five quarks, which are believed to exist for a split second before disintegrating into other particles.

There are six distinct "flavours" of quarks: charm, strange, top and bottom, and up and down.

By studying the decays of negatively charged B mesons, the LHCb team discovered evidence for the presence of a pentaquark, which is made up of an up, down, and strange quark in addition to a charm quark and charm antiquark. It's the first pentaquark with an unusual quark that has been identified.

A "doubly electrically charged" mixture of four quarks—a charm quark, an odd antiquark, an up quark, and a down antiquark—is one of the two newly discovered tetraquarks.

Together with its neutral counterpart, which possesses a charm quark, an odd antiquark, an up antiquark, and a down quark, that tetraquark was detected. This is the first observation of a pair of tetraquarks together, according to CERN.

In certain theoretical models, exotic hadrons are represented as individual tightly bound quark units. Some interpret them as weakly bonded pairs of standard hadrons, akin to the way atoms are bound together to form molecules.

"More research on exotic hadrons and time will be needed to determine whether these particles are one, the other, or both," according to CERN.

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