Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Lancaster University, analysing data taken by the ATLAS experiment, have been at the centre of what is believed to be the first clear observation of a new particle at the Large Hadron Collider.
The particle, the chi b(3P), is a new way of combining a beauty quark and its antiquark so that they bind together. Like the more famous Higgs particle, the chi b(3P) is a boson. However, whereas the Higgs is not made up of smaller particles, the chi b(3P) combines two very heavy objects via the same 'strong force' which holds the atomic nucleus together.
Andy Chisholm, a PhD student from the University of Birmingham who worked on the analysis said: 'Analysing the billions of particle collisions at the LHC is fascinating. There are potentially all kinds of interesting things buried in the data, and we were lucky to look in the right place at the right time.'
'The chi b(3P) is a particle that was predicted by many theorists, but was not observed at previous experiments, such as in my previous work on the D-Zero experiment in Chicago,' continued Dr James Walder, a Lancaster research associate who worked on the analysis.
Dr Miriam Watson, a research fellow working in the Birmingham group observed: 'The lighter partners of the chi b(3P) were observed around twenty five years ago. Our new measurements are a great way to test theoretical calculations of the forces that act on fundamental particles, and will move us a step closer to understanding how the universe is held together.'
Professor Roger Jones, Head of the Lancaster ATLAS group said: 'While people are rightly interested in the Higgs boson, which we believe gives particles their mass and may have started to reveal itself, a lot of the mass of everyday objects comes from the strong interaction we are investigating using the chi b.'
- ATLAS Collaboration. Observation of a new chi_b state in radiative transitions to Upsilon(1S) and Upsilon(2S) at ATLAS. arXiv, Dec 22, 2011 [link]
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