Two never-before-seen particles were discovered among data collected by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. The LHC, built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), is a 17-mile-long underground tunnel that has the purpose of hurling protons at each other at incredible speeds so that scientists can find out what exactly comes out of the collision, in other words studying the particles they may break apart into.
It goes without saying that the two newly discovered particles reinforce the standard model of physics. Moreover the discovery of the particles is also helping scientists understand more about the strong force, which acts like glue and hold particles together in the universe.
The two new particles were named Xib’ and Xib*, pronounced “zi-b-prime,” “zi-b-star” respectively. Both are a type of particle called a baryon. The research was published on Feb. 10 in the journal Physical Review Letters.
It’s been about 3 years since scientists at Europe’s CERN particle physics lab proudly announced that the collider had found the Higgs boson, a mysterious particle whose existence had been predicted almost a half-century earlier.
However the particle accelerator has been shut down for the past couple of years. In the meantime scientists, engineers and technicians are working on increasing its power by 60 per cent. CERN researchers if they were hoping to turn the power back on at the collider at the end of March.
According to a press release from CERN, the two new particles are each about six times larger than a proton. Baryons which include Xib’ and Xib* and other familiar particles such as protons and neutrons, are held together by strong force, while the other fundamental forces in the universe are: gravity, electromagnetism, and weak force.
If strong force holds particles together the weak force makes them decay. On one hand scientists understand the basic theory of the strong force and they can use it in order to estimate the sizes and masses of different baryons. Strong force related equations are incredibly complex. For instance part of a baryon’s mass can unpredictably and abruptly burst into and out of existence.