Physicists of the DZero experiment at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory have discovered a new particle made of three quarks, the Omega-sub-b (Ωb). The particle contains two strange quarks and a bottom quark (s-s-b). It is an exotic relative of the much more common proton and weighs about six times the proton mass.
The discovery of the doubly strange particle brings scientists a step closer to understanding exactly how quarks form matter and to completing the "periodic table of baryons." Baryons (derived from the Greek word "barys," meaning "heavy") are particles that contain three quarks, the basic building blocks of matter. The proton comprises two up quarks and a down quark (u-u-d).
Combing through almost 100 trillion collision events produced by the Tevatron particle collider at Fermilab, the DZero collaboration found 18 incidents in which the particles emerging from a proton-antiproton collision revealed the distinctive signature of the Omega-sub-b. Once produced, the Omega-sub-b travels about a millimeter before it disintegrates into lighter particles. Its decay, mediated by the weak force, occurs in about a trillionth of a second.