The Physics of Beauty, or How Beauty Hadrons Are Revealing Particle Mysteries

Updated on October 7, 2019
1701TheOriginal profile image

Leonard Kelley holds a bachelor's in physics with a minor in mathematics. He loves the academic world and strives to constantly explore it.

Source

Particle physics is complicated, to undersell it. It draws from many disciplines and requires great technology and space to gather any results at all. It should therefore be clear that enduring mysteries are out there, and we wish to test further and hopefully solve them. One aspect that is showing great promise is beauty – of a hadron type. What else could this possibly be about? Certainly not mine. Anyway, lets look at how beauty can reveal hidden secrets of the Universe.

Unresolved Mysteries

The Standard Model of Physics is one of the most successful theories of physics. Period. IT has been tested thousands of different ways and holds up to scrutiny. But issues are still present. Amongst them is the matter/antimatter imbalance, how gravity plays a role, how are all the forces tied together, the discrepancy between the expected and measured values of the Higgs Boson, and more. This all means that one of our best scientific theories is just an approximation, with missing pieces still to be found (Wilkinson 59-60).

Source
Source

Beauty Hadron Mechanics

A beauty hadron is a meson that is made of a beauty (bottom) quark and an anti-down quark (quarks are further subatomic components and have many different iterations). The beauty hadron (which has a ton of energy, about 5 giga-electron-volts, roughly a helium nucleus. This gives them the ability to travel a “great distance” of 1 centimeter before they break down into lighter particles. Because of this energy level, different decay processes are theoretically possible. The two big ones for new physical theories are both are presented below but to translate the jargon into something more recognizable we have two possibilities. One involves the beauty hadron decaying into a D meson (a charm quark with an antidown quark)) and a W boson (acting as a virtual particle) which itself decays into an anti-tau neutrino and a tau neutrino which carries a negative charge. The other decay scenario involves our beauty hadron decaying into a K meson (a strange quark and an antidown quark) with a Z boson that becomes a muon and an anti-muon. Because of the consequences of the conservation of energy and rest energy (e=mc^2), the mass of the products is less than that of the beauty hadron, for kinetic energy is dissipated to the system around the decay, but that isn’t the cool part. It’s those W and Z bosons, for they are 16 times as massive as the beauty hadron yet are not a violation of the rules previously mentioned. That is because for these decay processes they act like virtual particles, but others are possible under a quantum mechanic property known as lepton universality which essentially states that lepton/boson interactions are the same no matter the type. From it we know that the probability of a W boson decaying into a tau lepton and an anti-neutrino should be the same as it decaying into a muon and an electron (Wilkinson 60-2, Koppenburg).

Source
Source

LHCb

Crucial to the study of beauty hadrons is the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment running at CERN. Unlike its counterparts there, LHCb doesn’t generate particles in its study but looks at the hadrons produced by the main LHC and their decay products. The 27 kilometer LHC empties into LHCb, which is 4 kilometers from CERN headquarters and measures 10 by 20 meters. Any incoming particles are recorded by the experiment as they encounter a large magnet, a calorimeter, and a path tracer. Another key detector is the ring-imaging Cherenkov (RICH) counter, which looks for a certain light pattern caused by Cherenkov radiation that can inform scientists of what kind of decay they witnessed (Wilkinson 58, 60).

Results and Possibilities

That lepton universality mentioned earlier has been shown through LHCb to have some issues, for the data shows the tau version is a more prevalent decay path than the muon one. A possible explanation would be a new type of Higgs particle that would be more massive and therefore generate more of a tau route than a muon one when it decays, but data doesn’t point to their existence as likely. Another possible explanation would be a leptoquark, a hypothetical interaction between a lepton and a quark which would distort sensor readings. Also possible would be a different Z boson that is an “exotic, heavier cousin” of the one we are used to which would become a quark/lepton mix. To test for these possibilities, we would need to look at the ratio of the decay route with a Z boson to decay routes that give an electron pair as opposed to a muon pair, denoted as R­­K*. We would also need to look at a similar ratio involving the K meson route, denoted as R­K. If the Standard Model is indeed true, then these ratios should be roughly the same. According to data from the LHCb crew, R­­K* is 0.69 with a standard deviation of 2.5 and R­­K ­is 0.75 with a standard deviation of 2.6. That isn’t to the 5 sigma standard that classifies the findings as significant, but it’s certainly a smoking gun to some possible new physics out there. Maybe there is an inherent reference to one decay route over another (Wilkinson 62-3, Koppenburg).

Works Cited

Koppenburg, Patrick and Zdenek Dolezal, Maria Smizanska. “Rare decays of b hadrons.” arXiv:1606.00999v5.

Wilkinson, Guy. “Measuring Beauty.” Scientific American Nov. 2017. Print. 58-63.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Leonard Kelley

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)