The physicists at the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland have recently discovered a new particle that was only predicted by the current patterns in particle physics. The particle, named XI-cc++, is made up of two heavy quarks and one light one. Thus, its conclusive detection could make it a useful tool in understanding more about the force that binds the quarks together and leads to the formation of the atom.
The New Particle is an Important Discovery to Quantum Theory
The XI-cc++ particle is a baryon, which means it is composed of three quarks. The quark is a unit of measurement for hadrons, the main object of study for the scientists at CERN.
Usually, three light quarks form most baryons. However, as the XI-cc++ particle has two heavy quarks, it is four times heavier than a usual baryon. This makes for an important clue for the suppositions made in quantum theory. As Giovanni Passaleva from the Large Hadron Collider states:
Finding a doubly heavy-quark baryon is of great interest as it will provide a unique tool to further probe quantum chromodynamics, the theory that describes the strong interaction, one of the four fundamental forces.
Physicists have split the quarks into different “flavors” called up, down, top, bottom, charm and strange. The XI-cc++ has two charm quarks and an up quark. That is why it makes the particle lean towards the heavy side. Because lighter particles move faster, they are harder to study.
However, with the XI-cc++ particle, a single light quark moves around the heavier quarks which are slower, making it easier for the physicists to study the phenomenon.
By proving the existence of a speculated particle pattern, researchers wish to discover other such patterns that involve the charm quark and measure their lifespan as well as the frequency with which they can be created in the collision experiments at CERN. With these measurements, scientists can reinforce or disprove the current theories in the Standard Model of particle physics.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons.