An atom-smashing experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has detected a new subatomic particleâ€”and it’s a beauty.
Known as Xi(b)* (pronounced “csai bee-star”), the new particle is a baryon, a type of matter made up of three even smaller pieces called quarks. Protons and neutrons, which make up the nuclei of atoms, are also baryons.
The Xi(b)* particle belongs to the so-called beauty baryons, particles that all contain a bottom quark, also known as a beauty quark.
The newfound particle had long been predicted by theory but had never been observed. Although finding Xi(b)* wasn’t exactly a surprise, the discovery should help scientists solve the larger puzzle of how matter is formed.
“It’s another brick in the wall,” said James Alexander, a physicist at Cornell University who conducts experiments with the LHC.