What’s the Big Deal About the Pentaquark?
The pentaquark, a novel arrangement of five elementary particles, has been detected at the Large Hadron Collider. This class of particles may hold the key to a better understanding of neutron stars and the Universe’s strong nuclear force. (Image Credit: CERN/LHCb experiment)
“Three quarks for Muster Mark!,” wrote James Joyce in his labyrinthine fable, Finnegan’s Wake. By now, you may have heard this quote – the short, nonsensical sentence that eventually gave the name “quark” to the Universe’s (as-yet-unsurpassed) most fundamental building blocks. Today’s physicists believe that they understand the basics of how quarks combine; three join up to form baryons (everyday particles like the proton and neutron), while two – a quark and an antiquark – stick together to form more exotic, less stable varieties called mesons. Rare four-quark partnerships are called tetraquarks. And five quarks bound in a delicate dance? Naturally, that would be a pentaquark. And the pentaquark, until recently a mere figment of physics lore, has now been detected at the LHC!
So what’s the big deal? Far from just being a fun word to say five-times-fast, the pentaquark may unlock vital new information about the strong nuclear force. These revelations could ultimately change the way we think about our superbly dense friend, the neutron star – and, indeed, the nature of familiar matter itself.(…)
Read the rest of What’s the Big Deal About the Pentaquark? (640 words)
© Vanessa Janek for Universe Today, 2015. |
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Post tags: antiparticle, antiquark, Astronomy, baryon, CERN, elementary, hadron, LHC, meson, neutron, Neutron Star, particle, pentaquark, proton, quark, strong force