Geneva: Scientists at CERN announced on Wednesday that they have discovered two new subatomic particles that could widen our understanding of the universe.
The collaboration for the LHCb experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider discovered the two new particles, which were predicted to exist by the quark model but had never been seen before, belonging to the baryon family.
A baryon is a composite subatomic particle made up of three quarks.
The new particles, like the well-known protons that the LHC accelerates, are baryons made from three quarks bound together by the strong force.
But the types of quarks are different: the new particles both contain one beauty (b), one strange (s), and one down (d) quark, CERN said in a statement.
The new particles are more than six times as massive as the proton.
“Nature was kind and gave us two particles for the price of one,” said Matthew Charles of the CNRS's LPNHE laboratory at Paris VI University.
“This is a very exciting result. Thanks to LHCb's excellent hadron identification, which is unique among the LHC experiments, we were able to separate a very clean and strong signal from the background," said Steven Blusk from Syracuse University in New York.
“It demonstrates once again the sensitivity and how precise the LHCb detector is,” said Blusk.
Blusk added that the heavier weight of the two particles is due in part to their “spins” in opposite directions which is “an exciting result.”
The research team studied the masses of these particles, their relative production rates, their widths - a measure of how unstable they are and other details of their decays.
They found that the results match up with predictions based on the theory of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD).
QCD is part of the Standard Model of particle physics, the theory that describes the fundamental particles of matter, how they interact and the forces between them.
CERN scientists said the study, using data taken at the LHC during 2011-2012, could help differentiate between Standard Model effects and “anything new or unexpected in the future.”
The findings were published in the journal Physical Review Letters.