New results from research performed at the Department of Energys Jefferson Lab hint that strange quarks may contribute to the protons magnetic moment. If confirmed by data to be taken later this year, these surprising results would indicate that strange quarks in the protons quark-gluon sea contribute to at least one of the protons intrinsic properties. The HAPPEx results strengthen the trend found by the SAMPLE experiment at MIT-Bates and the A4 experiment at the Mainz Laboratory in Germany. Results are being presented by University of Massachusetts at Amherst Physicist Krishna Kumar at the APS (American Physical Society) April Meeting Plenary Session Q0.00003.
Kumar is a Jefferson Lab user and a co-spokesperson on the Hall A Proton Parity Experiment (HAPPEx). The experiment measures the neutral weak force between a beam of electrons and target nuclei at a length scale of around one femtometer (roughly the size of a proton or neutron). These measurements will help physicists learn about the strong force that binds up and down quarks into protons and neutrons (nucleons) and the up, down and strange quark contributions to the nucleons charge and current distributions.
In the experiment, HAPPEx researchers sent a polarized beam of electrons into hydrogen and Helium-4 nuclei. The researchers alternated the electron beams polarization (spin) throughout the experiment. The electromagnetic force is mirror-symmetric (the electrons spin will not affect the number of electrons scattered), while the weak force is not (electrons polarized one way will interact differently than electrons spinning oppositely). So measuring the fractional difference in the number of scattered electrons due to the beams changing polarization allowed the researchers to calculate the neutral weak force.
Kandice Carter | EurekAlert!
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