A new particle has been discovered by the Large Hadron Collider, as CERN physicists are now dubbing this particle as one that is “doubly charmed” due to its composition. Why is this the case, and what’s the deal with this description?
According to a report from the New York Times, the new particle has been given the codename Xi-cc++, and the fact that it has two charm quarks (hence the “twice the charm” and “doubly charming” sobriquets given by news publications) could help scientists delve deeper into how quarks intermingle with each other. Quarks, as the Times noted, are the tiny particles that serve as building blocks of both protons and neutrons, which, in turn, make up most of ordinary matter as we know it.
Further explaining the new discovery from the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN physics lab outside Geneva, Switzerland, the New York Times wrote that protons and neutrons are made up of up quarks and down quarks. Protons are composed of two up quarks and one down quark, while neutrons have the opposite — one up quark and two down quarks. Either way, quarks come in triplets in this case, and these groups are also called baryons.
A new particle has been detected at the Large Hadron Collider. We asked a physics teacher to explain… ???? https://t.co/efP1VRAd3i
— BBC World Service (@bbcworldservice) July 7, 2017
Additionally, there are baryons that come with combinations of heavier quarks, each of which has peculiar names such as “strange” and “charm,” and less unusual definitions such as “top” and “bottom.”
Earlier this week, it was announced that the Large Hadron Collider at CERN was able to count a total of 300-plus Xi-cc++ baryons, with each of them coming with two heavy charm quarks and one up quark. That doesn’t make for a new physics model, as Xi-cc++ can be filed under the Standard Model of physics, with its existence and properties having been predicted by the latter model, per lead researcher and University of Glasgow physicist Patrick Spradlin.
Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) project spokesperson Giovanni Passaleva was quoted by Scientific American, as the CERN scientist said that finding a double-charmed heavy quark baryon could improve the accuracy of physicists’ predictions on the existence of certain particles.
— Tech2 (@tech2eets) July 7, 2017
“Finding a doubly heavy quark baryon is of great interest, as it will provide a unique tool to further probe quantum chromodynamics [QCD]—the theory that describes the strong [force], one of the four fundamental forces. Such particles will thus help us improve the predictive power of our theories.”
Xi-cc++ particles work in such a way that the only light quark moves around at a high speed, circling the heavier pair of charm quarks, much like a smaller planet would orbit two giant stars in a binary pairing. This is a situation favorable to scientists, as it makes it easier for them to learn more about the particles. That’s a contrast to how all three lightweight, conventional quarks in a triplet within protons and neutrons all move about at a similarly rapid pace.
With the help of the Large Hadron Collider, CERN physicists are now working hard to produce more Xi-cc+ particles. They hope to get more accurate information on these particles’ lifetimes, and on how frequently they get created in collisions. Additionally, former LHCb spokesperson Guy Wilkinson of the University of Oxford teased “exciting times ahead,” as the project team also hopes to find other doubly charmed quarks, including the Xi-cc+ and Omega-cc particles.
[Featured Image by Johannes Simon/Getty Images]