New Subatomic Particles Discovered by Large Hadron Collider Team
Five new subatomic particles that had been “hiding in plain sight” have been uncovered by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), Europe’s giant atom-smasher.
They were discovered by scientists in charge of the LHCb experiment, also known as “beauty”, which is exploring what happened just after the Big Bang that gave birth to the universe.
By measuring their properties, physicists hope to gain greater insight into the strong nuclear force that binds the building blocks of atoms together.
The LHC, the world’s largest particle accelerator, is built into a seven-mile circular underground tunnel straddling the Swiss-French border near Geneva.
In July 2012, LHC scientists made history by capturing the fabled Higgs boson, dubbed the “God particle”. The Higgs boson gives matter mass and was a fundamental piece of the universe that had been missing since British physicist Peter Higgs predicted its existence in the 1960s.
The new particles are not quite as exciting but still constitute a significant find.
Professor Tara Shears, from the University of Liverpool, a leading member of the “beauty” team, said: “These particles have been hiding in plain sight for years, but it’s taken the exquisite sensitivity of LHCb’s particle detectors to bring them to our attention.”
The five particles are all baryons – subatomic particles made up of three smaller units called quarks.
Quarks, one of the basic building blocks of matter, come in six “flavours” known as up, down, strange, charm, top and bottom.
The newly discovered particles are high-energy versions of the omega_c baryon, a particle made up of two strange quarks and one charm quark.