April 30th, 2012 by James Ayre
“Telltale signs: The snapshot of a particle collision in the CMS detector shows decay products of a Xi_b^* baryon. Easily recognizable are, among other things, the two muons (red lines).”
A new particle has been discovered in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator. The new particle is called the Xi_b^* baryon. It helps confirm some of the fundamental assumptions of physics regarding quarks.
The baryon family in particle physics refers to particles that are made of three quarks. Quarks are a group of six particles that differ in their masses and charges. The commonly known protons and neutrons are composed of the two lightest quarks. The baryons composed of the heavier quarks have only been seen artificially, in particle accelerators like the LHC.
During proton collisions at the LHC, researchers detected a baryon with one light and two heavier quarks. The particle is electrically neutral and has a weight similar to a lithium atom.
The finding confirms the second of three baryons predicted in popular theory.
The discovery helps confirm the theory on how quarks bind, and helps to shed more light on ‘the strong interaction’ of the four basic forces of physics that decide the structure of matter.
The detector used, the CMS detector, is used to detect the energy and momentum of photons, electrons, muons, and other charged particles, with a very high degree of accuracy. The CMS detector was developed with the help of 179 different institutions worldwide.
Source: University of Zurich
Image Credits: CERN
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