The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) atom-smashing machine exposed the pentaquark to scientists in the results of a study released on Tuesday after the exotic particle had successfully eluded them for five decades.
The search for the enigmatic pentaquark has perplexed physicists since Murray Gell-Mann’s 1964 discovery that every proton and neutron is composed of combinations of three elementary particles referred to as quarks, according to The Wall Street Journal
. This research resulted in Gell-Mann’s receipt of the Nobel Prize for his work in physics in 1969.
Gell-Mann’s discovery and his proposal that it should be possible to make matter from five quarks fueled the hunt for the pentaquark, according to The Journal. After many false claims and reported sightings of the particle over the years, four scientists began studying the results of particle collisions performed with CERN’s LHC in Switzerland in 2011 and 2012 after they found a “bump” in the data. The results of the discovery were reported to the journal, “Physical Review Letters.”
“The pentaquark is not just any new particle,” said Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) spokesperson Guy Wilkinson, according to CERN’s press release
. “It represents a way to aggregate quarks, namely the fundamental constituents of ordinary protons and neutrons, in a pattern that has never been observed before in over 50 years of experimental searches. Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we’re all made, is constituted.”
The LHCb experiment investigated the minute differences between matter and antimatter, according to the Daily Mail
. The results produced the discovery of four quarks and an antiquark wrapped up into one pentaquark.
“Benefitting from the large data set provided by the LHC, and the excellent precision of our detector, we have examined all possibilities for these signals, and conclude that they can only be explained by pentaquark,” said LHCb physicist Tomasz Skwarnicki of Syracuse University in the CERN press release.
More studies will be conducted into the nature and purpose of the pentaquark and the possibilities that it has to offer as the LHCb project collects new data through the LHC.
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