CERN scientistsThe Large Hadron Collider is Europe’s largest particle accelerator and it is now operating again.  And two recently published studies now describe that the machine’s latest round of experiments have resulted in the identification of three new “exotic” particles and confirmed the existence—yet undiscovered—fourth new particle.

These newly-identified particles are considered “exotic” because they contain four quarks; quarks are the building blocks of all matter in the universe.  Particle physicists had, at one time, believed all particles were composed of mesons or a quark/antiquark pair, or baryones, or three quarks. They had never believed four quarks was a possibility.

These new exotic particles have been so named for their reconstructed megaelectronvolts mass. One electronvolt measures, approximately, 160 zeptojoules; just a tiny fraction of a single joule.  Particle X(4140), for example, has the mass of 4,140 megaelectronvolts, the existence of which scientists have finally confirmed.

And now, physics researchers at CERN are preparing to wade through all of the most recent data collected from the Large Hadron Collider. And this is an opportunity that some argue only comes around once in a lifetime.

Fortunately, this new batch of data is remarkably large.  Between April of 2015—when they turned the LHC on again—and December 2015, CERN scientists had collected roughly 2.6 “inverse femtobarns” (which is a unit of measurement for particle collision events) of data. And so far, this year, these scientists have already collected what is considered to be a massive treasure trove of information they can explore.

“This is the time when the probability of finding something new is highest,” explains CERN Compact Muon Solenoid experiment head Tiziano Camporesi.

Of course, now scientists are more excited by a recent “bump” that both Atlas and CMS detected in December.  And since then—since the detection of that single “bump” at an energy of 750 gigaelectronvolts—it has been written about in more than 450 papers

Now, scientists are excited by a “bump” detected by both Atlas and CMS in December. In the half year that has transpired since the bump was detected at an energy of 750 gigaelectronvolts, 450 papers have been written about the “bump,” leading some to urge caution against leaping to conclusions.

Dr. Camporesi goes on to say, “What we have seen is like if you had thrown a coin six times and see that it always comes out heads. You wouldn’t bet that the coin has two heads just on that.”

Furthermore, University of Manchester professor of particle physics, Stefan Söldner-Rembold, explains “The big reason that people are excited about this bump is that both experiments (Atlas and CMS) saw a hint in roughly the same place; but even this is not completely unlikely.“