The European nuclear research facility CERN announced on Tuesday that scientists using the upgraded Large Hadron Collider (LHC) had identified three previously unknown particles.
After a three-year suspension for improvements, the world’s biggest and most powerful particle collider resumed operation. The modernized LHC enables researchers to analyze twenty times more collisions than previously.
Using the improved collider, CERN researchers discovered a “pentaquark” and the first-ever pair of “tetraquarks.”
What is the significance of particle discovery?
This finding will “help theorists develop a unified model of exotic hadrons, the nature of which is largely unknown,” according to Chris Parkes, a spokesman for the LHCb experiment, which was designed to investigate what occurred after the Big Bang.
“We’re witnessing a period of discovery similar to the 1950s, when a ‘particle zoo’ of hadrons started being discovered and ultimately led to the quark model of conventional hadrons in the 1960s. We’re creating ‘particle zoo 2.0′,” said LHCb physics coordinator Niels Tuning about the new discovery.
An electron that cannot be split down into smaller particles is a quark. Quarks often combine in pairs or threes to produce hadrons, such as the protons and neutrons that comprise atomic nuclei – a fundamental component of the cosmos. Before the LHC improvement, it was difficult to detect these particles since they often disintegrate rapidly.
The upgraded Large Hadron Collider will operate at 13.6 trillion electronvolts for about four years.
“The more analyses we perform, the more kinds of exotic hadrons we find,” Tuning said.
Researchers seek to get a greater understanding of dark matter, which has never been identified. In addition, CERN hopes to learn more about the generation and decay processes of the subatomic particles that generate matter and antimatter in the LHC.
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