While the world is horrified by the novel Coronavirus, scientists at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced the discovery of a never seen before tetraquark. Any finding in particle physics is a phenomenal one because it could tell us a lot about the origins of the universe and how everything came to be. And this discovery is quite charming and quarky (quirky).
Quarks are the elementary particles so any further division of these particles is not possible. This means everything in the universe is ultimately a combination of Quarks. Any new discovery of Quarks therefore increase our understanding about the origin of universe
When three Quarks come together, they form familiar particles known as Baryons, for instance, protons and neutrons, found in the nucleus of an atom. A tetraquark, in particle physics, is an exotic meson composed of four quarks.
Murray Gell-Mann, recipient of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the theory of Elementary particles, chose the name ‘Quark’. Another scientist, George Zweig from CERN also proposed the Quark theory independently of Gell-Mann.
All the new particles are detected using particle accelerators where particles are accelerated at almost the speed of light and collide to look into their subsets. It is like knocking two rocks together so that they break into smaller constituents.
The most recent tetraquark, named X (6900) was discovered by CERN physicists while working on LHCb (Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment). The already known tetraquarks contain a particular combination of two relatively heavy quarks and two light Quarks. On the other hand X(6900) consists of four heavy Quarks: two Quarks and two anti-Quarks.
This exclusive particle made of unusual combinations is a perfect setting for understanding the fundamental force of nature known as Strong Interaction. The strong force is vital to comprehend as it binds together protons, neutrons and the nucleus that ultimately make up matter. Another perk of X(6900) is its relatively heavy mass, so these are simpler to look at and are more stable as compared to notoriously fast moving-lighter ones.
The paper written by 800 scientists is yet to be peer-reviewed. The bump observed has a statistical significance of more than five sigma (standard deviations) that is good enough to claim the discovery of a new particle.
In any scenario, this unusual discovery will serve as a piece for completing the puzzle of our universe while serving as evidence of the presence of new particles not yet found.