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Particle discovery helps solve physics puzzle

Edinburgh scientists have helped identify a new type of particle in experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Image of Xi-cc++ particle

The discovery of the particle, named Xi-cc++, helps solve a longstanding puzzle in theoretical physics, researchers say.

For the first time, scientists have confirmed the existence of a long-predicted type of particle – known as a doubly charmed baryon.

Previous attempts to identify the particles had proven unsuccessful.

Physics research

Nearly all matter in the universe comprises atoms made of protons and neutrons. These are composed of three smaller particles – called quarks – which can be either light or heavy.

There are six types of quarks, and theoretically many different combinations of these could form other kinds of particles, the team says.

Xi-cc++ is first particle to be found with two heavy quarks, researchers say. Until now, all particles identified had contained, at most, one heavy quark.

Scientists say the discovery could open up a new field of particle physics research. The finding raises hopes that closely related particles could also be detected at the Large Hadron Collider.

Underground experiments

A team of scientists, including researchers at the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, found more than 300 Xi-cc++ particles in data collected at CERN last year.  

The discovery was made in one of four main detectors at CERN, the Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment (LHCb).

It was possible because of the high production rate of heavy quarks at the Large Hadron Collider and the unique capabilities of the LHCb, the team says.

LHCb is among experiments at CERN aiming to help solve the mysteries of our universe. It is contained in a cavern 100 metres below ground near Ferney-Voltaire in France.

Related links

School of Physics and Astronomy