A new particle recently discovered by physicists using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could herald a new age of physics, researchers report. If the findings are confirmed, the research could reveal a significant flaw in the standard model, a set of theories that underlies much of subatomic physics.
Data from the LHC, located at the CERN facility in Switzerland, was utilized in the new finding.
The standard model provides the understanding of how the universe operates at the smallest scales. However, the model suffers from certain shortcomings that cannot be explained physicists. For one, the theory does not account for gravity, which plainly exists.
This challenge, among others, drives some physicists to find examples of how, and if, nature behaves outside the standard model. For the first time, researchers may have found an example of a particle behaving in a manner not permitted by predictions. If confirmed, this finding could lead to a new age of particle physics.
The standard model predicts that a certain particle, known as B meson, should decay at precise frequencies and angles. However, experiments at the LHC reveal far different behavior from what is expected of the mesons being examined. Data utilized in the new study was collected during 2011 and 2012.
Physicists note the experiments showed unexpected frequencies during decay, and angles of breakdown also differed from predicted values. The new investigation examined each parameter of the decay separately, in order to determine how the breakdown proceeds.
"My approach can be likened to determining the year when a family portrait was taken. Rather than looking at the whole picture, it is better to analyze each person individually and from that perspective try to work out the year the portrait was taken," Marcin Chrząszcz of the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IFJ PAN) in Poland says.
The B meson is composed of a quark and antiquark, an uneasy pairing. Accordingly, the particle is short-lived, quickly decaying into a pair of phi and J/psi mesons.
The cause of the odd breakdown remains to be unexplained. However, one possibility is the influence of an-as-yet-unseen intermediate Z-prime boson.
This discovery could be the first find in the quest for a new standard model that could explain the basic workings of the cosmos.