- (Photo: Reuters/Denis Balibouse)
The Large Hadron Collider (L.H.C.) of Geneva has recovered its first new particle since it opened in 2009, providing significant insight into the forces acting on all of the universe's matter.
The L.H.C., which runs more than 191 yards deep and costs 200,000 Swiss Francs ($213,630 US) per hour to operate, smashes protons together at nearly the speed of light. The energy released from this massive collision produces new particles.
Although the L.H.C. is usually associated with the endless quest for the enigmatic "God particle," scientists announced Thursday that the machine had successfully discovered the Chi_b (3P) subatomic particle.
The Chi_b is reportedly a heavier variant of two excited Chi particles, the "beauty quark" and the "beauty anti-quark." It was originally discovered in a lighter version nearly 25 years ago.
"People have thought this more excited state should exist for years but nobody has managed to see it until now," professor Roger Jones, who works on the L.H.C., told BBC News.
Scientists agree that the discovery of the Chi_b could provide significant insight into the forces acting on matter. The Chi_b is a "boson," just like the elusive Higgs boson often referred to as the "God particle."
"The Chi-b(3P) is a particle that was predicted by many theorists, but was not observed at previous experiments," said British physicist James Walder in a press release as quoted by the University of Birmingham.
This discovery serves as a major stepping stone toward filling the gaps of the "Standard Model" of particle physics, researchers say.
Researchers excited the scientific community earlier this month when they announced that they had detected "tantalizing hints" of the ever-elusive Higgs boson using the L.H.C.
Scientists theorize that the Higgs boson is a subatomic particle that has provided all mass and energy to all matter since the creation of the universe.
The discovery of the Chi_b proves the L.H.C. is making progress in piecing together the puzzle that is the Standard Model of particle physics.
“The lighter partners of the Chi_b (3P) were observed around 25 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,” Miriam Watson, of the Collider team at the University of Birmingham, told the Press Association.