Two experiments running simultaneously at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., have observed a new particle called the cascade baryon. It is one of the most massive examples yet of a baryon—a class of particles made of three quarks held together by the strong nuclear force—and the first to contain one quark from each of the three known families, or generations, of these elementary particles.
Protons and neutrons are made of up and down quarks, the two first-generation quarks. Strange and charm quarks constitute the second generation, while the top and bottom varieties make up the third. Physicists had long conjectured that a down quark could combine with a strange and a bottom quark to form the three-generation cascade baryon.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.