July 21, 2011

Fermilab Physicists Produce New Particle

Physicists at the U.S.-based Fermilab have produced a new particle that is a heavier relative of the neutron.

The Batavia, Illinois atom smasher found the neutral Xi-sub-b by smashing particles together around a 4-mile ring at near light speed. 

Physicists knew the particle existed, but it is the first time researchers have observed it firsthand. 

Measuring the properties of particles like the neutral Xi-sub-b allows physicists to understand how quarks interact to form matter.

The particle is about six times heavier than a proton or neutron. 

The researchers said that the particles are produced only in high-energy collisions, and are rare and very difficult to observe.

Once this particle is produced, the scientists said the neutral Xi-sun-b travels a fraction of a millimeter before it decays into lighter particles.  These particles then decay again into lighter particles. 

Physicists use these details of this series of decays to identify the initial particle. 

The researchers have published their discovery in the journal Physical Review Letters.


Image Caption: The CDF detector records particles emerging from high-energy collisions.


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