The Large Hadron Collider “beauty experiment” probes the nature of matter and antimatter to answer fundamental questions about the reality we inhabit. Now, scientists working on the experiment have discovered three never-seen-before particles, according to an announcement.
The beauty experiment, called LHCb, studies the differences between matter and antimatter by searching for subatomic particles called quarks—specifically, beauty quarks, or b quarks, also known as bottom quarks. Quarks can double or triple up to create hadrons (protons and neutrons) or they can combine in greater numbers to create so-called exotic hadrons such as tetraquarks and pentaquarks. Quarks also come in several varieties: up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom, and there are also antiquarks.
Many new hadrons have been discovered with the LHCb experiment over the years, and now there's three more exotics: a new pentaquark, and the first-ever pair of tetraquarks.
The first new particle was observed in the decay of another kind of subatomic particle called a B meson. The pentaquark is made up of a charm quark, a charm antiquark, an up, a down, and a strange quark. According to the announcement, it's the first pentaquark found to contain a strange quark. The second particle is a "doubly electrically charged tetraquark" made up of a charm quark, a strange antiquark, an up, and a down antiquark, and scientists also observed its neutral pair.
“The more analyses we perform, the more kinds of exotic hadrons we find,” LHCb physics coordinator Niels Tuning said in a statement. “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’.”
According to scientists, discovering the new particles is yet another step towards more fully understanding the mysterious universe we exist inside.
“Finding new kinds of tetraquarks and pentaquarks and measuring their properties will help theorists develop a unified model of exotic hadrons, the exact nature of which is largely unknown,” LHCb spokesperson Chris Parkes said in a statement. “It will also help to better understand conventional hadrons.”