Tomasz Skwarnicki, a professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University in New York has discovered data about a new class of pentaquarks. He confirmed the existence of three never seen pentaquarks.
The finding states that the particle, named Pc(4312)+, decays to a proton and a J/ψ particle (composed of a charm quark and an anticharm quark). This latest observation made by him has a statistical significance of 7.3 sigma, passing the threshold of 5 sigma traditionally required to claim a discovery of a new particle.
Skwarnicki is also a part of a team of researchers, including members of Syracuse’s High-Energy Physics (HEP) Group. The research group is religiously involved in studying fundamental particles and forces in the universe. Most of their work takes place at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, whose LHCb is the biggest and evidently the most powerful particle detector in the world. LHCb stands for Large Hadron Collider beauty.
Within the LHC the protons are heaved and flung together at high energies, only to collide with one another. What lies inside the particles, once cracked open, helps scientists probe and enquire into the mysteries of the fundamental universe.
To have a deep understanding of how particles interact and bind together is Skwarnicki’s specialty. In 2015, he and a PhD student Nathan Jurik and a distinguished Professor Sheldon Stone and Liming Zhang, an associate professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, made headlines with their role in LHCb’s detection of first two pentaquarks. The first two pentaquarks were Pc(4450)+ and Pc(4380)+.
LHCb’s latest data used up an energy beam that was nearly twice as strong. This method when combined with more refined data-selection criteria, produces a greater range of proton collisions.
The data also revealed a third “companion” to it called pentaquark. He adds that “All three pentaquarks had the same pattern similar to that of a baryon with a meson substructure. Their masses were below appropriate for the baryon-meson thresholds”.
Skwarnicki’s discovery occurred relatively fast, considering that LHCb stopped collecting data almost three months ago.
He is excited about the discovery because it helps explain how the smallest constituents of matter behave and change. His latest discovery proves that pentaquarks are built the same way as protons and neutrons, which are bound together in the nucleus of an atom.
Skwarnicki tells that although the pentaquarks don’t play a significant part in the basic matter that humans are made of, their presence and existence will significantly affect the other matter and their models in different parts of the universe such as the neutron stars.