Illinois-Scientists of the DZero collider detector collaboration at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory have announced that their data on the properties of a subatomic particle, the B_s meson ("B sub s"), suggest that the particle oscillates between matter and antimatter in one of nature’s fastest rapid-fire processes-more than 17 trillion times per second. Their findings may affect the current view of matter-antimatter asymmetry, and might also offer a first glimpse of the contributions of new physics, such as supersymmetry, to particle physics.
B_s mesons and their antiparticles are produced in pairs in high-energy proton-antiproton collisions. This computer representation shows the decay products of the short-lived candidate particle produced in a collision. The decay products are used to identify the B_s mesons produced in the collision. (Courtesy of DZero collaboration)
The DZero result, suggesting a preferred oscillation frequency between 17 and 21 times per picosecond (trillionth of a second), is described in a paper submitted to the journal, Physical Review Letters. The result, a measure of the oscillation or "mixing" frequency of the particle, has a confidence level of 90 percent, and so does not qualify as a discovery. Physicists have agreed that claims of a discovery must have a confidence level of 99.99995 percent, indicating a 99.99995 percent chance that the result can be reproduced. The data for the DZero result were culled from one inverse femtobarn of total collision data, or more than one billion events from Fermilab’s Tevatron particle accelerator -- a milestone capitalizing on the significant luminosity improvements in the Tevatron. The DZero result also sets the stage for future results. Within the next month or so, the CDF collider detector collaboration at Fermilab expects to have a result with greater precision than the DZero result.
"Not only is this an exciting result, but the analysis of a one-inverse-femtobarn data set represents a major milestone for DZero." said DZero cospokesperson Jerry Blazey of Northern Illinois University. "Next, the Tevatron experiments can focus on obtaining a precise measurement of B_s mixing, which will tell us even more about the curious subatomic world where particles can spontaneously turn into their own antiparticles and back again."
Mike Perricone | EurekAlert!
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