CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.
July 15, 2015
Image above: Possible layout of the quarks in a pentaquark particle. The five quarks might be tightly bound (left). They might also be assembled into a meson (one quark and one antiquark) and a baryon (three quarks), weakly bound together (Image: Daniel Dominguez).
The LHCb experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider has reported the discovery of a class of particles known as pentaquarks. The collaboration has submitted today a paper reporting these findings (link is external) to the journal Physical Review Letters: http://arxiv.org/abs/1507.03414
“The pentaquark is not just any new particle,” said LHCb spokesperson Guy Wilkinson. “It represents a way to aggregate quarks, namely the fundamental constituents of ordinary protons and neutrons, in a pattern that has never been observed before in over 50 years of experimental searches. Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we’re all made, is constituted.”
Our understanding of the structure of matter was revolutionized in 1964 when American physicist Murray Gell-Mann proposed that a category of particles known as baryons, which includes protons and neutrons, are comprised of three fractionally charged objects called quarks, and that another category, mesons, are formed of quark-antiquark pairs. Antiquarks are quarks of antimatter. Gell-Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for this work in 1969. This quark model also allows the existence of other quark composite states, such as pentaquarks composed of four quarks and an antiquark.
Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Image Credit: CERN
Earlier experiments that have searched for pentaquarks have proved inconclusive. Where the LHCb experiment differs is that it has been able to look for pentaquarks from many perspectives, with all pointing to the same conclusion. It’s as if the previous searches were looking for silhouettes in the dark, whereas LHCb conducted the search with the lights on, and from all angles. The next step in the analysis will be to study how the quarks are bound together within the pentaquarks.
CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.
The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.
Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 22 Member States.
Read the full Press Release: http://press.web.cern.ch/press-releases/2015/07/cerns-lhcb-experiment-reports-observation-exotic-pentaquark-particles
Read the LHCb article: http://lhcb-public.web.cern.ch/lhcb-public/Welcome.html#Penta
Large Hadron Collider (LHC): http://home.web.cern.ch/topics/large-hadron-collider
LHCb experiment: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/experiments/lhcb
For more information about the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), visit: http://home.web.cern.ch/
Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Corinne Pralavorio.