A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

Exotic particle of the day: the stringball

02/13/10

Today at the American Physical Society meeting in Washington, DC, Ayana Arce from Duke University spoke about prospects for discovering new physics at the Large Hadron Collider. Among the many theoretically proposed exotica she discussed, the most fun name goes to the stringball. It looks like a mini black hole but it involves what she described as “a democratic decay to a large number of objects per event.” That statement takes a bit of unpacking to understand, but here’s how a stringball could behave in a snapshot:

Imagine a small black hole. The black hole evaporates away through Hawking radiation, getting smaller over time. String theory suggests that when the black hole gets to some critically small size, it transforms into highly excited vibrating string state, which can then disintegrate into a burst of massless radiation. That radiation would appear as jets of particles coming out in every direction in an LHC detector such as ATLAS or CMS.

If stringballs exist, there is a good chance that the LHC could see them when it ramps up its energy and collects sufficient data. As a bonus, the characteristics of a stringball would be determined by any extra dimensions that might exist. It’s a long shot to discover, but it’s a curious example of the exotica that could be created by the Large Hadron Collider.

Latest news articles

06/17/16
CERN

For the first time a beam of particles has been sent through the Advanced Proton Driven Plasma Wakefield Acceleration Experiment.

06/15/16

Second gravitational wave detection announced

For a second time, scientists from the LIGO and Virgo collaborations saw gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes.

06/13/16

CERN grants beam time to students

Contest winners will study special relativity and an Egyptian pyramid using a CERN beamline.

06/06/16
Cosmos

With dark matter, dark energy, phantom matter and even a dark force, physics news can sometimes sound like the voiceover for a superhero movie.