On November 19, 2014 the Large Hadron Collider Beauty Experiment (LHCb) conducted by CERN discovered two new subatomic particles. The particles were originally predicted by York University physicist Randy Lewis, and Richard Woloshyn of TRIUMF, a particle physics lab based in Vancouver. Steven Blusk from Syracuse University, New York told CBC, “We did have good reason to believe those particles would be there”.
The newly discovered particles, designated as Xi_b'- and Xi_b*- , are new types of baryons. Baryons are particles that are made up of three elemental subatomic particles called quarks. These particles are the same type as protons and neutrons, which make up for the nucleus of an atom. The new particles are approximately six times larger than a proton. These also contain a b quark, which is heavier than those found in a proton, causing an increase in its size. The other two quarks present in the new baryons are one d quark; those found in neutrons and protons, and one middleweight quark yet to be identified.
Lewis and Woloshyn predicted the mass and composition of the new particles using a computer calculation based on quantum chromodynamics theory. This theory describes the fundamental particles of matter, how the particles interact, and the forces between them. The calculation that was used describes the mathematical rules of how quarks behave.
“If we want to find new physics beyond the Standard Model, we need first to have a sharp picture. Such high precision studies will help us to differentiate between Standard Model effects and anything new or unexpected in the future”, says Patrik Koppenburg, LHCb Physics Coordinator for CERN. The discovery of these two new particles helps us further expand our knowledge of subatomic particles, the affects particle composition has on subatomic forces, and how they work and interact with other particles.
The Large Hadron Collider is being prepared to run new tests that operate at higher energies and with more intense beams in Spring 2015.