Three types of exotic particles discovered thanks to CERN’s large hadron collider
Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have just announced the discovery of three new exotic particles thanks to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), known for the detection of the famous Higgs boson. These are three types of unconventional subatomic particles, namely one pentaquark and two tetraquarks.
The main objective of the LHC is to seek answers to some of the fundamental questions of physics concerning the basic laws governing the interactions and forces between elementary particles. In this way, they could also look at how relevant theories such as general relativity and quantum mechanics relate to each other. To understand all this in depth, it is very important to know as many of the available elements as possible, and that, logically, includes all these new exotic particles found by the LHC.
The LHC, at 27 kilometers long, is the largest particle accelerator in existence. But it is also a collider. This means that it accelerates two beams of particles to very high speeds, leading to collisions between them. It then uses a series of sensors to detect the products of each of these collisions. This is how subatomic particles such as hadrons are detected.
These are subatomic particles made up of quarks held together by strong nuclear interaction. Translated from physics to common language, these are particles smaller than an atom, formed by the union of quarks, one of the most elementary particles in nature.
The most common hadrons are those formed by two or three quarks. This is the case of the protons and neutrons found in the nuclei of atoms. However, larger numbers of quarks can also be grouped together. This is much less common, which is why they are known as exotic particles. This time, what CERN’s LHC has discovered is a group of five, the pentaquark, and two groups of four, known as tetraquarks.
The existence of exotic particles such as tetraquarks or pentaquarks was predicted some 60 years ago. However, it took four decades before they could be detected, precisely thanks to the LHC.
Even so, they are not all the same. The ones that have been discovered now have different properties from the previous ones, hence they are considered new types of exotic particles. And this is very useful. In fact, as explained in a statement by project spokesman Chris Parkes, “finding new types of tetraquarks and pentaquarks and measuring their properties will help theorists develop a unified model of exotic hadrons, whose exact nature is largely unknown.” In addition, “it will help to better understand conventional hadrons.”
In short, it will help to understand in a much more comprehensive way how matter is formed, down to the most basic unit, that true atom referred to by the Greeks in antiquity.