New subatomic structure?
Date: Thursday, November 10, 2016 @ 12:32:45 EST
Topic: Science

Physicists find more evidence that a new subatomic structure exists. The 'impossible' four-neutron particle (by Fiona MacDonald)

In February this year, Japanese researchers rocked the physics world when they claimed they'd finally confirmed the existence of a mysterious, and long-thought impossible 'four-neutron, no-proton' particle, known as a tetraneutron.

And now a study adds more evidence that they were right, showing that not only can the tetraneutron exist stably, but that it should look a whole lot like the particle that was observed by the Japanese team - taking us a step closer to confirming the existence of a new subatomic structure.

If further independent observation can verify the presence of the tetraneutron, it would be a huge deal, because scientists have been trying to find the mysterious structure for 40 years, despite claims that it couldn't possibly exist. But there has been very little evidence to go off until now.

It would be such a big deal, in fact, that it would require a rewrite of our current models of nuclear force - the force that holds protons and neutrons together. 

"It would be something of a sensation," nuclear theorist Peter Schuck from France's National Centre for Scientific Research, who wasn't involved in the research, told Science News back in February.

So what is a tetraneutron, and why are so many researchers sure it doesn't exist? The hypothesised structure is made up of a cluster of four neutrons - subatomic particles that have mass, but no charge. Along with protons, neutrons make up the nucleus of atoms...
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