This is called a flying start; Just getting down to business, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the CERN accelerator has already distinguished itself with the discovery of three new exotic particles.
Indeed, this machine is emerging from a long latency period that began at the end of its second series of experiments, in 2018. Since then, engineers have been working hard to prepare it for its third round. They have considerably improved the instruments and sensors.
But above all, they offered him a grain of considerable power; while it was already the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, it can now generate collisions at a phenomenal energy of 13.6 TeV, and with a precision never before seen on a machine of this type. Enough to make all CERN physicists salivate.
Technically, the craft had already woke up last april. But there is no question of leaving at full speed as soon as you jump out of bed. The engineers began by carrying out numerous tests on their still groggy accelerator; the machine was finally pushed to cruising speed yesterday, just in time for the 10th anniversary of the discovery of the Higgs Boson (see our article).
Two new tetraquarks and a “strange” pentaquark
The LHC is now on for four years which promise to revolutionize fundamental physics and the Standard Model. And he didn’t have to be asked! Barely hours after the resumption of operations and ten years after the discovery of the illustrious Higgs Boson, researchers have already spotted three new subatomic particles never before documented.
These are two new tetraquarks and a brand new pentaquark. These names are derived from the term “quark”, which designates a elementary particle of observable matter. It is these quarks that make up the hadrons. These include in particular the protons and neutrons which are themselves the constituents of atoms.
Here, as their names indicate, these particles have four and five quarks respectively, more than protons and neutrons, which have only three. These are therefore particles that researchers qualify asexotic. The pentaquark is even an exception in the CERN collection.
The quarks are distributed among six “flavors”, a characteristic which makes it possible to distinguish different families of particles. Physicists have given rather special names to these flavors, namely high, low, strange, charm, beauty, and truth. In this case, the famous pentaquark just discovered at the LHC is the very first to feature a strange quark.
The “particle zoo 2.0“
However, these are not discoveries as revolutionary as that of the Higgs boson. Moreover, these are not the first exotic particles to be produced by the LHC. Far from there. But it remains a magic moment for the CERN troops, according to Fabiola Guianotti, Director General of the institution, because this suggests a real deluge of leading scientific data.
And this is not an exaggeration. In their press release, the researchers explain that they expect to recover as much data during this third round of four years as during the 13 first years of operation!
” We are witnessing a period of discovery similar to that of the 1950s, when we discovered a “particle zoo” which eventually led us to the model of hadrons and quarks in the 1960s explains Niels Tuning, LHC coordinator. “ We are creating the Particle Zoo 2.0 “, he enthuses.
And with any luck, it’s in this zoo 2.0 that the answers to some of the burning questions that have been torturing physicists for decades will be hidden. In any case, what is certain is that the specialists will have their work cut out for them over the next four years!