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Interactions NewsWire #22-14
10 April 2014 http://www.interactions.org
Source: STFC
Content: Press Release
Date Issued: 10 April 2014

Latest CERN experiment confirms existence of exotic particle

Scientists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have confirmed the existence of a new class of subatomic particles, exotic hadrons.

A new measurement performed by the LHCb collaboration, one of the four large experiments at the LHC at CERN, has confirmed the existence of the exotic object labelled the Z(4430)-. This particle does not fit into the pattern of particles we have seen up to now. The LHCb result confirms an observation made by the Belle collaboration in 2008 that was later questioned and so resolves this previously unclear situation.

We and everything around us are made of atoms, and atoms are made in turn of smaller constituents. Atomic nuclei are orbited by electrons. The protons and neutrons that form atomic nuclei consist of three fundamental particles, called quarks, bound together. Other combinations of quarks can occur - particles containing two bound quarks (mesons) are also seen in nature. However, until now all particles containing quarks (hadrons) have conformed to one of these two types; quarks seem to like to come in twos or threes.

However, the underlying theory of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) that describes the behaviour of quarks allows for many different quark combinations, such as four quark states, to bind together into hadrons. Over the last forty years many searches for such exotic states have been performed but until now there was no conclusive proof of their existence. Several more mundane explanations for the Z(4430)- signal seen by Belle had been put forward, but the LHCb result establishes that for the first time we have seen the "smoking gun" signal for resonant behaviour of a particle that contains at least four quarks/antiquarks.

The "4430" refers to the (approximate) mass of this state, corresponding to roughly four times the mass of a proton.

Dr. Greig Cowan, STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and one of the lead analysts on this project says,

"This is a fantastic result from the LHCb collaboration. It confirms previous signs of this exotic state and shows, for the first time, that it has has the characteristic behaviour of a resonance. In addition we have also been able to pin down the quantum numbers and properties of this state with higher precision than previous experiments."

Speaking about what this means for particle physics research Professor Tara Shears, LHCb lead for the University of Liverpool, said "We've always taken the existence of two and three quark particle states for granted, but there's no reason why more complicated versions shouldn't occur. LHCb's observation and measurement of the Z(4430)- is going to help us explore this feature of matter. LHCb's measurement also demonstrates the experiment's versatility - who would have thought that an experiment designed to investigate the strange features of antimatter could also help us understand QCD and matter better?"

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The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) pays the UK contribution to the CERN budget as well as supporting UK participation in the four LHC experimental detector projects, LHCb, ALICE and the Higgs boson detectors ATLAS and CMS.

To speak to members of the research team please contact STFC Media Manager Jake Gilmore: Jake.gilmore@stfc.ac.uk Tel: 07970994586

Notes to editors

The work from LHCb for this project has built on the work that the Belle Collaboration did in 2008. At that time Belle reported evidence for an exotic structure, the Z(4430)-, that did not fit into the normal classification scheme. This state has 1 unit of electric charge and must contain a minimum of four quarks. Given this is a smoking gun for an exotic meson it has always been deemed important to confirm the Belle observations and understand whether the Z(4430)- is a real particle. Detailed studies show that the LHCb data can only be explained by the inclusion of the Z(4430)- and this state shows behaviour that is characteristic of a resonance ('phase motion across the peak').

The next steps are to search for other signs of this particle in other decays of B hadrons so that we can further study its properties. This may give signs of this same particle, allowing complementary ways to understand the nature of this state. This information will be essential to help understand what the nature of this state really is.

The theories give different predictions for rates of decays into different channels. They also have different predictions for sets of additional molecules or tetraquarks. This opens an exciting (but challenging) field that LHCb will be pursuing intensively in the coming years.

The result was presented for the first time on April 8th 2014 at the SM@LHC conference in Madrid, Spain.

About LHCb

LHCb is an experiment set up to explore what happened after the Big Bang that allowed matter to survive and build the Universe we inhabit today. Located in a vast underground cavern, 100 metres beneath the French countryside, LHCb is one of four large experiments based at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. The experiment, which involves about 700 scientists from 52 institutions around the world, has recorded the particles produced by the first circulating LHC proton beam on September 10th, 2008, and will run for at least 10 years.



STFC manages the UK subscription to CERN. UK membership of CERN gives our physicists and engineers access to the experiments and allows UK industry to bid for contracts, UK nationals to compete for jobs and research positions at CERN, and UK schools and teachers to visit.

In return, UK companies have won £47 Million in contracts from CERN over the last three years – a benefit to the UK economy that is only possible due to STFC's membership of CERN. With nearly 600 UK scientists regularly working at CERN the UK has made major strategic investments in the LHC and the development of the experimental detectors and played a central role in much of the research that has taken place at the LHC in the last three years.


About STFC

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security. The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.

STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including in the UK the ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, and LOFAR, and is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd. It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).