The X17 factor: A particle new to physics might solve the dark matter mystery

phys.org | 11/27/2019 | Staff
moemajormoemajor (Posted by) Level 3
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A team of scientists in Hungary recently published a paper that hints at the existence of a previously unknown subatomic particle. The team first reported finding traces of the particle in 2016, and they now report more traces in a different experiment.

If the results are confirmed, the so-called X17 particle could help to explain dark matter, the mysterious substance scientists believe accounts for more than 80% of the mass in the universe. It may be the carrier of a "fifth force" beyond the four accounted for in the standard model of physics (gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force and the strong nuclear force).

Researchers - Particles - Accelerators - Particles - Speed

Most researchers who hunt for new particles use enormous accelerators that smash subatomic particles together at high speed and look at what comes out of the explosion. The biggest of these accelerators is the Large Hadron Collider in Europe, where the Higgs boson—a particle scientists had been hunting for decades—was discovered in 2012.

Attila J. Krasznahorkay and his colleagues at ATOMKI (the Institute of Nuclear Research in Debrecen, Hungary) have taken a different approach, conducting smaller experiments that fire the subatomic particles called protons at the nuclei of different atoms.

Pairs - Electrons - Positrons - Antimatter - Version

In 2016, they looked at pairs of electrons and positrons (the antimatter version of electrons) produced when beryllium-8 nuclei went from a high energy state to a low energy state.

They found a deviation from what they expected to see when there was a large angle between the electrons and positrons. This anomaly could be best be explained if the nucleus emitted an unknown particle which later "split" into an electron and a positron.

Mass - Krasznahorkay - Team - Particle - X17

Because of its mass, Krasznahorkay and his team called the hypothetical particle X17. Now they have observed some strange behavior in helium-4 nuclei which can also be explained by the presence of X17.

This latest anomaly is statistically significant—a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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