The Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) collaboration at CERN, Switzerland announced their observation of a new particle with two charm quarks and one up quark. It’s a particularly interesting doubly charmed particle because it’s made up of two heavy quarks instead of just one like all other baryons that are currently known.
[Image Source: Daniel Dominguez/CERN]
The doubly charmed particle
For many years, physicists have been aware of the existence of this doubly charmed particle because of current physical theories. However, nobody has been successful in observing the particle and it is only now that the baryon with two heavy quarks has been distinctively detected. Known as Ξcc++(Xicc++), this new particle is almost four times heavier than a proton. This mass property, around 3621 MeV, of the new particle is attributed to its doubly charmed quark composition.
Almost all of the matter around us is composed of baryons – particles consisting of three quarks. The most common baryons being protons and neutrons. All of the currently known baryons are observed to be made up of only one heavy quark. Dr. Giovanni Passaleva, Spokesperson of the LHCb collaboration expressed the excitement of the group upon their observation of the new particle made up of two heavy quarks and how it will help enlighten scientists with many physical theories.
“Finding a doubly heavy-quark baryon is of great interest as it will provide a unique tool to further probe quantum chromodynamics, the theory that describes the strong interaction, one of the four fundamental forces. Such particles will thus help us improve the predictive power of our theories”.
The behavior of this doubly charmed particle is also of particular interest to physicists as it can help them detect similar representatives of the family of baryons with two heavy quarks. Former Spokesperson of the collaboration group, Dr. Guy Wilkinson, compared the behavior of the newly observed doubly charmed baryon to the dynamics of a planetary system.
“In contrast to other baryons, in which the three quarks perform an elaborate dance around each other, a doubly heavy baryon is expected to act like a planetary system, where the two heavy quarks play the role of heavy stars orbiting one around the other, with the lighter quark orbiting around this binary system”.
What is a charmed particle?
Charm is one of the six types of quarks that exist, and the other five are up, top, down, strange, and bottom. The charm or c quark is the third most massive of all the six quarks. Theoretically speaking, these six quarks could combine in various different ways to form other kinds of baryons.
What other charming quarks await CERN
According to Wilkinson, an array of doubly charmed baryons related to the Ξcc++ has been forecasted and that physicists will be eagerly looking out for them.
“An entire family of doubly charmed baryons related to the Ξcc++ is predicted and will be searched for with added enthusiasm. Furthermore, other hadrons containing different configurations of two heavy quarks, for example, two beauty quarks or a beauty and charm quark, are waiting to be discovered”.
The Journal of Physical Review Letters has published the paper reporting the findings of the LHCb collaboration.