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The Pentaquark: The Latest Subatomic Particle Discovered By CERN

Scientists from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN  have announced that they have discovered the pentaquark, a type of subatomic particle comprising four quarks and one antiquark bonded together.  Just like the Higgs Boson particle formerly, the existence of the pentaquark has been theorized for some years, in fact first predicted in the 1960s.  However, experiments into this exotic form of matter in the early 2000s, claiming to have detected it, were later declared invalid.  As a result, many scientists gave up on proving the existence of the pentaquark, but CERN physicists say that this time there is no doubt that it has been found.

As its name indicates, the pentaquark is a particle which consists of five quarks, bound together with one antiquark (a particle of antimatter).  Quarks are elementary particles which come in six variations known as “flavors”, and have quirky names: up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom. They bind themselves to form different composite particles, including neutrons and protons (the most stable), which consist of three quarks.

It appears that the pentaquark is not just any new particle, but one which represents a quark clustering or aggregating system. It is a pattern never observed before in more than 50 years of experimental searches on these particles. A close study of the pentaquark’s properties may help in the understanding the constitution of the matter which is the basis of all life, i.e. protons and neutrons.

This groundbreaking discovery was made by observing the decay of the subatomic particle called the Lambda B baryon.  The data for the scientific paper on this (submitted for publication in the scientific journal Physical Reviews Letters) was recorded between 2009 and 2012, but researchers viewed with caution the results from previous experiments which were invalidated.  They did extensive checks to see that they were indeed on the right track with this particular research.

Some scientists have even suggested that there may be another interpretation for the data which does not involve pentaquarks, but this time the physicists from CERN are certain.  With reference to the data provided by the Large Hadron Collider and the extreme precision of the detector, they say that they have examined all of the possibilities for the signals, and concluded that the only valid explanation for them is pentaquark states, according to LHCb physicist Tomasz Skwarnicki.


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