Scientists at CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland have revealed the discovery of a new particle known as pentaquark.
The giant collider already hinted signs of the particle in 2011 and 2012 but physicists wanted to make sure that it does exist before making the announcement following earlier claims of its discovery that were later disproved.
The discovery is crucial in that studying the properties of the pentaquark provides scientists with the chance to have a better understanding of how ordinary matter is constituted.
Guy Wilkinson, a spokesperson for the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment, which focuses on investigating the slight difference between matter and antimatter by studying the particles known as beauty quark or b quark, said that the discovery of the pentqaurk filled a gap in the theory describing how matter is built up from fundamental particles called quarks.
The theory, which was proposed in 1964 by physicist Murray Gell-Mann, describes the neutrons and protons that make up the nucleus of an atom as being consist of three quarks. It also describes how other particles called mesons are composed of pairs of quarks and their antimatter counterpart called antiquarks.
The scheme likewise pointed to the existence of pentaquarks, which are composed of four quarks and an antiquark. Unfortunately, there was no conclusive evidence for such particles over the past five decades.
"The pentaquark is not just any new particle," Wilkinson said. "It represents a way to aggregate quarks, namely the fundamental constituents of ordinary protons and neutrons, in a pattern that has never been observed before in over fifty years of experimental searches. Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we're all made, is constituted."
The discovery of the pentaquark may also give scientists idea on what occurs when giant stars collapse. Wilkinson said that these particles might be formed inside of collapsing stars so the discovery could provide scientists with a better understanding of the evolution of stars and how they evolve.
The discovery may also pave way to the discovery of other pentaquarks that have different masses.
"Now that we know nature allows five quarks to be bound together, it would be very strange indeed if just this set of quarks is allowed to coexist in this manner," Wilkinson said. "There should be many others. We will just have to go and hunt for them."