New exotic particle pops up during LHC experiments

March 29th, 2011 - 6:05 pm ICT by ANI  

Large Hadron Collider Washington, Mar 29 (ANI): The question of why the universe started out with more matter than antimatter has haunted physicists for years.

Now, a new study using data from experiments performed at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland, may explain the reason.

Researchers, led by Sheldon Stone, a physicist at Syracuse University, have discovered a rare particle containing equal parts of weird antimatter and normal matter, reports CBS News.

They recently observed new behaviour of this particle, called a B meson, at the LHC atom smasher.

B mesons are made up of one quark (the building block of protons and neutrons) and one anti-quark, which is the antimatter partner to the quark.

All normal particles are thought to have antimatter partner particles with the same mass but opposite charge. When matter and antimatter meet, the two annihilate each other.

Scientists think the universe started out with equal amounts of both, but matter destroyed most of the antimatter, and whatever surplus of matter remained is what makes up the universe we know today.

B mesons, which have both antimatter and matter packed inside them, were thought to have been common just after the Big Bang theorized to have created our universe, but are now thought not to occur in nature.

Scientists can create them, and other exotic particles, only in energetic collisions in particle accelerators like LHC.

However, B mesons aren’t stable, and once created, they decay quickly into other particles.

Stone and his team have now observed a new kind of decay process of the B meson that had been previously theorized but never before seen.

The discovery was made using an experiment at LHC called LHCb (which stands for ‘Large Hadron Collider beauty’).

“Our experiment is set up to measure the decays of B mesons. We discovered some new and interesting decay modes of B mesons, which hadn’t ever been seen before,” Stone told LiveScience.

In this case, the B mesons decayed by a different process, and created different end products, than previous research has measured.

That was partly enabled by the increased energy of the collisions at LHC compared with other atom smashers; the more energy, the more particles are produced, and the more particles, the greater the chances of finding rare events like these, said Stone.

Studying this different behavior of B mesons could shed light on the ultimate question of antimatter.

“When the universe was created in the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago, the number of particles and antiparticles was the same,” said Stone.

“One of the major questions that we really don’t know the answer to is why are there particles around now and not antiparticles. By studying the differences we can learn maybe what the physics is behind that difference,” he added.

The findings will appear in two papers in the March 28 issue of the journal Physics Letters B. (ANI)

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