New particle could help physicists understand subatomic glue

Detection allows probe of the universe’s strongest force

LHCb detector

PROBING FOR PARTICLES  The 4,500-metric-ton LHCb detector found evidence of a new particle by measuring the decays of particles called B mesons.

Maximilien Brice/© 2009 CERN

The discovery of a particle about three times as hefty as a proton may lead to insights into the force that holds the nucleus of an atom together.

The dauntingly named D*s3 (2860)ˉ is a never-before-seen particle recently observed by the LHCb detector at the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, near Geneva. Like protons and neutrons, D*s3 (2860)ˉ is made up of fundamental units of matter called quarks. But the new particle’s two quark components — a strange quark and the antimatter partner of a charm quark — are heavier than those in most other particles, making the particle an ideal target for studying the nuclear strong force that binds the two quarks.

Despite its incredible strength compared with the universe’s three other forces (weak, electromagnetic and gravity), the strong force is difficult to study because it acts over very short distances.

The discovery is detailed in the Oct. 17 Physical Review Letters and the Oct. 1 Physical Review D.

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