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Astral Alchemy: Researchers Synthesize Mysterious Exotic Baryon

Researchers have successfully synthesized an exotic, but very short-lived, Lambda resonance known as Λ(1405) for the first time.

Scientists at Osaka University were part of a particle accelerator experiment that produced an exotic and highly unstable particle, and determined its mass. This could contribute to a better understanding of the inner workings of ultra-dense neutron stars.

The Standard Model of particle physics explains that most particles are made of combinations of just six types of basic entities called quarks. However, there are still many unsolved mysteries, one of which is Λ(1405), an exotic but fleeting Lambda resonance. It was previously believed to be a specific combination of three quarks – up, down, and strange – and gaining insight into its composition could assist in uncovering information about the extremely dense matter in neutron stars.

Now, investigators from Osaka University were part of a team that succeeded in synthesizing Λ(1405) for the first time by combining a K meson and a proton and determining its complex mass (mass and width). The K meson is a negatively charged particle containing a strange quark and an up antiquark.

Schematic illustration of the reaction used to synthesize Λ(1405) by fusing a K- (green circle) with a proton (dark blue circle), which takes place inside a deuteron nucleus. Credit: Hiroyuki Noumi

The much more familiar proton that makes up the matter that we are used to has two up quarks and a down quark. The researchers showed that Λ(1405) is best thought of as a temporary bound state of the K meson and the proton, as opposed to a three-quark excited state.

In a study published recently in Physics Letters B, the group describes the experiment they carried out at the J-PARC accelerator. K mesons were shot at a deuterium target, each of which had one proton and one neutron. In a successful reaction, a K meson kicked out the neutron, and then merged with the proton to produce the desired Λ(1405). “The formation of a bound state of a K meson and a proton was only possible because the neutron carried away some of the energy,” says an author of the study, Kentaro Inoue.

The exotic baryon called Λ(1405) and a schematic illustration of the evolution of matter. Credit: Hiroyuki Noumi

One of the aspects that had been perplexing scientists about Λ(1405) was its very light overall mass, even though it contains a strange quark, which is nearly 40 times as heavy as an up quark. During the experiment, the team of researchers was able to successfully measure the complex mass of Λ(1405) by observing the behavior of the decay products.

(Top) Measured reaction cross-section. The horizontal axis is the K- and proton collision recoil energy converted into a mass value. Large reaction events occur at mass values lower than the sum of the K- and proton masses, which itself suggests the existence of Λ(1405). The measured data were reproduced by scattering theory (solid lines). (Bottom) Distribution of K and proton scattering amplitudes. When squared, these correspond to the reaction cross-section and are generally complex numbers. The calculated values match with the measured data. When the real part (solid line) crosses 0, the value of the imaginary part reaches its maximum value. This is a typical distribution for a resonance state, and determines the complex mass. The arrows indicate the real part. Credit: 2023, Hiroyuki Noumi, Pole position of Λ(1405) measured in d(K,n)πΣ reactions, Physics Letters B

“We expect that progress in this type of research can lead to a more accurate description of ultra-high-density matter that exists in the core of a neutron starA neutron star is the collapsed core of a large (between 10 and 29 solar masses) star. Neutron stars are the smallest and densest stars known to exist. Though neutron stars typically have a radius on the order of just 10 – 20 kilometers (6 – 12 miles), they can have masses of about 1.3 – 2.5 that of the Sun.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>neutron star,” says Shingo Kawasaki, another study author. This work implies that Λ(1405) is an unusual state consisting of four quarks and one antiquark, making a total of 5 quarks, and does not fit the conventional classification in which particles have either three quarks or one quark and one antiquark.

This research may lead to a better understanding of the early formation of the Universe, shortly after the Big BangThe Big Bang is the leading cosmological model explaining how the universe as we know it began approximately 13.8 billion years ago.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Big Bang, as well as what happens when matter is subject to pressures and densities well beyond what we see under normal conditions.

Reference: “Pole position of Λ(1405) measured in d(K−,n)πΣ reactions” by S. Aikawa, S. Ajimura, T. Akaishi, H. Asano, G. Beer, C. Berucci, M. Bragadireanu, P. Buehler, L. Busso, M. Cargnelli, S. Choi, C. Curceanu, S. Enomoto, H. Fujioka, Y. Fujiwara, T. Fukuda, C. Guaraldo, T. Hashimoto, R.S. Hayano, T. Hiraiwa, M. Iio, M. Iliescu, K. Inoue, Y. Ishiguro, S. Ishimoto, T. Ishikawa, K. Itahashi, M. Iwai, M. Iwasaki, K. Kanno, K. Kato, Y. Kato, S. Kawasaki, P. Kienle, Y. Komatsu, H. Kou, Y. Ma, J. Marton, Y. Matsuda, Y. Mizoi, O. Morra, R. Murayama, T. Nagae, H. Noumi, H. Ohnishi, S. Okada, Z. Omar, H. Outa, K. Piscicchia, Y. Sada, A. Sakaguchi, F. Sakuma, M. Sato, A. Scordo, M. Sekimoto, H. Shi, K. Shirotori, D. Sirghi, F. Sirghi, K. Suzuki, S. Suzuki, T. Suzuki, K. Tanida, H. Tatsuno, A.O. Tokiyasu, M. Tokuda, D. Tomono, A. Toyoda, K. Tsukada, O. Vazquez-Doce, E. Widmann, T. Yamaga, T. Yamazaki, H. Yim, Q. Zhang and J. Zmeskal, 20 December 2022, Physics Letters B.
DOI: 10.1016/j.physletb.2022.137637

The study was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Source: SciTechDaily