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Exotic Hadron Particles Exist: Physicists Break Ground With New Find

By Clyde Hughes   |   Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 01:32 PM

Researchers confirmed Monday the existence of exotic hadron particles, a type of matter that doesn't fit within the traditional model of particle physics.

Hadrons are subatomic particles made up of quarks and antiquarks, which have the same mass but opposite charges. Hadrons interact via the "strong force" that binds protons together inside the nuclei of atoms, according to Live Science.

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The elusive matter was discovered at the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) collaboration at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland with an unprecedented degree of statistical certainty. 

"We've confirmed the unambiguous observation of a very exotic state — something that looks like a particle composed of two quarks and two antiquarks," study co-leader Tomasz Skwarnicki, a high-energy physicist at Syracuse University in New York, said in a statement. The discovery "may give us a new way of looking at strong-[force] interaction physics," he added.

The Standard Model of particle physics allows for two kinds of hadrons."Baryons," one type (such as protons), are made up of three quarks, and "mesons," the other, are made up of a quark-antiquark pair, according to Live Science. Since the Standard Model was developed, physicists have predicted the existence of other types of hadrons composed of different combinations of quarks and antiquarks, which could arise from the decay of mesons. 

This is the first time that researchers have discovered the hadrons with a high degree of certainty. 

In 2007, a team of scientists, called the Belle Collaboration, discovered evidence of an exotic particle called Z(4430) using a particle accelerator. The particle appeared to be composed of two quarks and two antiquarks, but there wasn't solid evidence to back it their analysis, Skwarnicki said.

Sheldon Stone of CERN touted the accomplishment. 

"It's great to finally prove the existence of something that we had long thought was out there," he said, according to Live Science.

The LHCb sets up experiments to explore what happened after the theorized Big Bang that allowed matter to survive and build the universe, according to its website. 

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