Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


G-Zero update

Ghostly strange quarks influence proton structure

In research performed in Hall C, nuclear physicists have found that strange quarks do contribute to the structure of the proton. This result indicates that, just as previous experiments have hinted, strange quarks in the proton's quark-gluon sea contribute to a proton's properties. The result comes from work performed by the G-Zero collaboration, an international group of 108 physicists from 19 institutions, and was presented at a Jefferson Lab physics seminar on June 17.

Protons are found in the heart of all matter: the nucleus of the atom. Physicists have long known that protons are primarily built of particles called quarks, along with particles called gluons that bind the quarks together. There are three permanent quarks in the proton that come in two "flavors": two "up" and one "down."

Up and down quarks are the lightest of the possible six flavors of quarks that appear to exist in the universe. In addition to the proton's three resident quarks, the peculiar rules of quantum mechanics allow other particles to appear from time to time. These ghostly particles usually vanish in a tiny fraction of a second, but it's possible that they stay around long enough to influence the structure of the proton. Nuclear physicists set out to catch some of these ghostly particles in the act. They determined that the nextlightest quark, the "strange" quark, would be the most likely to have a visible effect.

According to Doug Beck, a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the spokesperson for the G-Zero collaboration, one way to see these strange quarks is to measure them through the weak interaction. "If we look with photons via the electromagnetic interaction, we see quarks inside the proton. And then, if we do it with the weak interaction, we see a very similar, yet distinctly different view of the quarks. And it's by comparing those pictures that we can get at the strange quark contribution," Beck says.

Since the hydrogen nucleus consists of a single proton, G-Zero researchers sent a polarized beam of electrons into a hydrogen target. They then watched to see how many protons were "scattered," essentially knocked out of the target, by the electrons.

Throughout the experiment, the researchers alternated the electron beam's polarization (spin). "We run the beam with polarization in one direction, and we look to see how many protons are scattered. Then we turn the beam around, in polarization at least, and measure for exactly the same amount of time again and look to see how many protons are scattered. And there will be a different number by about 10 parts per million," Beck says. That's because the electromagnetic force is mirror-symmetric (the electrons' spin will not affect the number of protons scattered), while the weak force is not (electrons polarized one way will interact slightly differently than electrons spinning oppositely).

"The relative difference in those counting rates tells us how big the weak interaction piece is in this scattering of electrons from protons. We compare it to the strength of the electromagnetic interaction between electrons and protons, and that gives us the answer that we're looking for," Beck explains.

What the researchers found was that strange quarks do contribute to the structure of the proton. In particular, Beck says the collaboration found that strange quarks contribute to the proton's electric and magnetic fields -- in other words, its charge distribution and magnetization.

"All quarks carry charge, and one of the things we measure is where the strange quarks are located in the proton's overall charge distribution," Beck explains, "And then there's a related effect. There are these charged quarks inside the protons, and they're moving around. And when charged objects move around, they can create a magnetic field. In G-Zero, we also measure how strange quarks contribute to the proton's magnetization."

G-Zero allowed the researchers to extract a quantity representing the strange quark's contribution to a combination of the proton's charge and magnetization. "The data indicate that the strange quark contributions are non-zero over the entire range of our measurements," Beck says, "And there are a couple of points that overlap other measurements. They agree, so that's a good thing."

However, by itself, the G-Zero result does not yet allow the researchers to separate the strange quark's contribution to the charge from its contribution to the magnetization. "There's another G-Zero run coming up in December, and that will help us to try to disentangle this combination of the contribution to the charge and the magnetization. So that will give us one more measurement that will allow us to look at those quantities separately," Beck notes.

Linda Ware | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions
19.03.2018 | Vienna University of Technology

nachricht 'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region
16.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Earlier flowering of modern winter wheat cultivars

20.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Smithsonian researchers name new ocean zone: The rariphotic

20.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs

20.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>