Scientists working at the LHC announced on Tuesday about the finding of a new class of particles which was only a hypothesis 50 years ago.
Murray Gell-Mann, the American physicist was awarded with a Nobel Prize in 1969 for his idea that protons and neutrons, which belongs to a class of particles called baryons, had fractionally charged objects called quarks. His model also claimed the existence of multiple grouped arrangements of quarks which includes pentaquarks, composed for four quarks and a so-called antiquark.
CERN experiments on LHC provide the first solid evidence to support Gell-Mann’s 50 year old pentaquark theory. Previous attempts to prove failed short of giving any conclusive proof.
“The pentaquark is not just any new particle,” said LHCb spokesperson Guy Wilkinson. “It represents a way to aggregate quarks, namely the fundamental constituents of ordinary protons and neutrons, in a pattern that has never been observed before in over fifty years of experimental searches. Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we’re all made, is constituted.”
Researchers with at an experimental division known as LHCb, which stresses more on antimatter and matter, examined the decay of a specific baryon known as Lambda b into its constituent parts. They detected signals which showed an intermediate stage in the breakdown process, which they connect with the existence of the long-sought pentaquark.
“Benefitting from the large data set provided by the LHC, and the excellent precision of our detector, we have examined all possibilities for these signals, and conclude that they can only be explained by pentaquark states,” LHCb physicist Tomasz Skwarnicki of Syracuse University said in a statement.
More experiments at LHCb will study about the bonding of quarks together within pentaquarks, and what more information can be learned from the findings.
These are some of the first results collected at the LHC since scientists restarted the experiments successfully in June post an upgrade plus shutdown for two years. The world’s biggest particle collider is currently conducting research at almost twice the energy used in the first run, which came to a stop at early 2013.