After a four year shut down and a series of upgrades, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has been reactivated. And just one day into its third run, it's already helped researchers discover three new kinds of sub-atomic particles, or quarks. These tiny building blocks of reality are typically found in a few different varieties — up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom — which in turn can be combined into the clusters that help form protons and neutrons. But these new discoveries feature combinations that, until now, have never been observed.
From the press release:
The international LHCb collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has observed three never-before-seen particles: a new kind of "pentaquark" and the first-ever pair of "tetraquarks", which includes a new type of tetraquark.
The first kind, observed in an analysis of "decays" of negatively charged B mesons, is a pentaquark made up of a charm quark and a charm antiquark and an up, a down and a strange quark. It is the first pentaquark found to contain a strange quark. The finding has a whopping statistical significance of 15 standard deviations, far beyond the 5 standard deviations that are required to claim the observation of a particle in particle physics.
The second kind is a doubly electrically charged tetraquark. It is an open-charm tetraquark composed of a charm quark, a strange antiquark, and an up quark and a down antiquark, and it was spotted together with its neutral counterpart in a joint analysis of decays of positively charged and neutral B mesons. The new tetraquarks, observed with a statistical significance of 6.5 (doubly charged particle) and 8 (neutral particle) standard deviations, represent the first time a pair of tetraquarks has been observed.
It's unclear how these newly discovered particles could teleport our reality into the past or trap us all in a Hell portal leading to a parallel dimension, as some people are apparently very concerned about. But it's still pretty cool!
Large Hadron Collider 'Beauty Experiment' Discovers 3 New Particles [Jordan Pearson / Vice]