Down quark

The down quark or d quark (symbol: d) is the second-lightest of all quarks, a type of elementary particle, and a major constituent of matter. Together with the up quark, it forms the neutrons (one up quark, two down quarks) and protons (two up quarks, one down quark) of atomic nuclei. It is part of the first generation of matter, has an electric charge of −1/3 e and a bare mass of 4.7+0.5
.[1] Like all quarks, the down quark is an elementary fermion with spin 1/2, and experiences all four fundamental interactions: gravitation, electromagnetism, weak interactions, and strong interactions. The antiparticle of the down quark is the down antiquark (sometimes called antidown quark or simply antidown), which differs from it only in that some of its properties have equal magnitude but opposite sign.

Its existence (along with that of the up and strange quarks) was postulated in 1964 by Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig to explain the Eightfold Way classification scheme of hadrons. The down quark was first observed by experiments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in 1968.

Down quark
CompositionElementary particle
InteractionsStrong, Weak, Electromagnetic force, Gravity
AntiparticleDown antiquark (
TheorizedMurray Gell-Mann (1964)
George Zweig (1964)
DiscoveredSLAC (1968)
Decays intoStable or Up quark + Electron + Electron antineutrino
Electric charge1/3 e
Color chargeyes
Weak isospinLH: −1/2, RH: 0
Weak hyperchargeLH: 1/3, RH: −2/3


Murray Gell-Mann at Lection
Murray Gell-Mann
George Zweig
George Zweig

In the beginnings of particle physics (first half of the 20th century), hadrons such as protons, neutrons, and pions were thought to be elementary particles. However, as new hadrons were discovered, the 'particle zoo' grew from a few particles in the early 1930s and 1940s to several dozens of them in the 1950s. The relationships between each of them was unclear until 1961, when Murray Gell-Mann[2] and Yuval Ne'eman[3] (independently of each other) proposed a hadron classification scheme called the Eightfold Way, or in more technical terms, SU(3) flavor symmetry.

This classification scheme organized the hadrons into isospin multiplets, but the physical basis behind it was still unclear. In 1964, Gell-Mann[4] and George Zweig[5][6] (independently of each other) proposed the quark model, then consisting only of up, down, and strange quarks.[7] However, while the quark model explained the Eightfold Way, no direct evidence of the existence of quarks was found until 1968 at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.[8][9] Deep inelastic scattering experiments indicated that protons had substructure, and that protons made of three more-fundamental particles explained the data (thus confirming the quark model).[10]

At first people were reluctant to identify the three-bodies as quarks, instead preferring Richard Feynman's parton description,[11][12][13] but over time the quark theory became accepted (see November Revolution).[14]


Despite being extremely common, the bare mass of the down quark is not well determined, but probably lies between 4.5 and 5.3 MeV/c2.[15] Lattice QCD calculations give a more precise value: 4.79±0.16 MeV/c2.[16]

When found in mesons (particles made of one quark and one antiquark) or baryons (particles made of three quarks), the 'effective mass' (or 'dressed' mass) of quarks becomes greater because of the binding energy caused by the gluon field between quarks (see mass–energy equivalence). For example, the effective mass of down quarks in a proton is around 330 MeV/c2. Because the bare mass of down quarks is so small, it cannot be straightforwardly calculated because relativistic effects have to be taken into account. Due to strong force mediated by gluons in the gluon field, the quarks move at roughly 99.995% of the speed of light, leading to Lorentz factor of roughly 100. As a result, the combined rest mass of quarks is barely 1% of proton or neutron mass.

See also


  1. ^ a b M. Tanabashi et al. (Particle Data Group) (2018). "Review of Particle Physics". Physical Review D. 98 (3): 030001. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.98.030001.
  2. ^ M. Gell-Mann (2000) [1964]. "The Eightfold Way: A theory of strong interaction symmetry". In M. Gell-Mann, Y. Ne'eman (ed.). The Eightfold Way. Westview Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7382-0299-0.
    Original: M. Gell-Mann (1961). "The Eightfold Way: A theory of strong interaction symmetry". Synchrotron Laboratory Report CTSL-20. California Institute of Technology.
  3. ^ Y. Ne'eman (2000) [1964]. "Derivation of strong interactions from gauge invariance". In M. Gell-Mann, Y. Ne'eman (ed.). The Eightfold Way. Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-7382-0299-0.
    Original Y. Ne'eman (1961). "Derivation of strong interactions from gauge invariance". Nuclear Physics. 26 (2): 222–229. Bibcode:1961NucPh..26..222N. doi:10.1016/0029-5582(61)90134-1.
  4. ^ M. Gell-Mann (1964). "A Schematic Model of Baryons and Mesons". Physics Letters. 8 (3): 214–215. Bibcode:1964PhL.....8..214G. doi:10.1016/S0031-9163(64)92001-3.
  5. ^ G. Zweig (1964). "An SU(3) Model for Strong Interaction Symmetry and its Breaking". CERN Report No.8181/Th 8419.
  6. ^ G. Zweig (1964). "An SU(3) Model for Strong Interaction Symmetry and its Breaking: II". CERN Report No.8419/Th 8412.
  7. ^ B. Carithers, P. Grannis (1995). "Discovery of the Top Quark" (PDF). Beam Line. 25 (3): 4–16. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  8. ^ E. D. Bloom; et al. (1969). "High-Energy Inelastic ep Scattering at 6° and 10°". Physical Review Letters. 23 (16): 930–934. Bibcode:1969PhRvL..23..930B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.23.930.
  9. ^ M. Breidenbach; et al. (1969). "Observed Behavior of Highly Inelastic Electron–Proton Scattering". Physical Review Letters. 23 (16): 935–939. Bibcode:1969PhRvL..23..935B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.23.935.
  10. ^ J. I. Friedman. "The Road to the Nobel Prize". Hue University. Archived from the original on 2008-12-25. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  11. ^ R. P. Feynman (1969). "Very High-Energy Collisions of Hadrons" (PDF). Physical Review Letters. 23 (24): 1415–1417. Bibcode:1969PhRvL..23.1415F. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.23.1415.
  12. ^ S. Kretzer; H. Lai; F. Olness; W. Tung (2004). "CTEQ6 Parton Distributions with Heavy Quark Mass Effects". Physical Review D. 69 (11): 114005. arXiv:hep-ph/0307022. Bibcode:2004PhRvD..69k4005K. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.69.114005.
  13. ^ D. J. Griffiths (1987). Introduction to Elementary Particles. John Wiley & Sons. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-471-60386-3.
  14. ^ M. E. Peskin, D. V. Schroeder (1995). An introduction to quantum field theory. Addison–Wesley. p. 556. ISBN 978-0-201-50397-5.
  15. ^ J. Beringer; et al. (Particle Data Group) (2013). "PDGLive Particle Summary 'Quarks (u, d, s, c, b, t, b′, t′, Free)'" (PDF). Particle Data Group. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  16. ^ Cho, Adrian (April 2010). "Mass of the Common Quark Finally Nailed Down". Science Magazine. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06.

Further reading


In particle physics, a baryon is a type of composite subatomic particle which contains an odd number of valence quarks (at least 3). Baryons belong to the hadron family of particles, which are the quark-based particles. They are also classified as fermions, i.e., they have half-integer spin.

The name "baryon", introduced by Abraham Pais, comes from the Greek word for "heavy" (βαρύς, barýs), because, at the time of their naming, most known elementary particles had lower masses than the baryons. Each baryon has a corresponding antiparticle (antibaryon) where their corresponding antiquarks replace quarks. For example, a proton is made of two up quarks and one down quark; and its corresponding antiparticle, the antiproton, is made of two up antiquarks and one down antiquark.

As quark-based particles, baryons participate in the strong interaction, which is mediated by particles known as gluons. The most familiar baryons are protons and neutrons, both of which contain three quarks, and for this reason these particles are sometimes described as triquarks. These particles make up most of the mass of the visible matter in the universe, as well as forming the components of the nucleus of every atom. Electrons (the other major component of the atom) are members of a different family of particles, known as leptons, which do not interact via the strong force. Exotic baryons containing five quarks (known as pentaquarks) have also been discovered and studied.

Beta decay

In nuclear physics, beta decay (β-decay) is a type of radioactive decay in which a beta ray (fast energetic electron or positron) is emitted from an atomic nucleus. For example, beta decay of a neutron transforms it into a proton by the emission of an electron accompanied by an antineutrino, or conversely a proton is converted into a neutron by the emission of a positron (positron emission) with a neutrino, thus changing the nuclide type. Neither the beta particle nor its associated (anti-)neutrino exist within the nucleus prior to beta decay, but are created in the decay process. By this process, unstable atoms obtain a more stable ratio of protons to neutrons. The probability of a nuclide decaying due to beta and other forms of decay is determined by its nuclear binding energy. The binding energies of all existing nuclides form what is called the nuclear band or valley of stability. For either electron or positron emission to be energetically possible, the energy release (see below) or Q value must be positive.

Beta decay is a consequence of the weak force, which is characterized by relatively lengthy decay times. Nucleons are composed of up quarks and down quarks, and the weak force allows a quark to change type by the exchange of a W boson and the creation of an electron/antineutrino or positron/neutrino pair. For example, a neutron, composed of two down quarks and an up quark, decays to a proton composed of a down quark and two up quarks. Decay times for many nuclides that are subject to beta decay can be thousands of years.

Electron capture is sometimes included as a type of beta decay, because the basic nuclear process, mediated by the weak force, is the same. In electron capture, an inner atomic electron is captured by a proton in the nucleus, transforming it into a neutron, and an electron neutrino is released.

Charm quark

The charm quark, charmed quark or c quark (from its symbol, c) is the third most massive of all quarks, a type of elementary particle. Charm quarks are found in hadrons, which are subatomic particles made of quarks. Examples of hadrons containing charm quarks include the J/ψ meson (J/ψ), D mesons (D), charmed Sigma baryons (Σc), and other charmed particles.

It, along with the strange quark is part of the second generation of matter, and has an electric charge of +2/3 e and a bare mass of 1.275+0.025−0.035 GeV/c2. Like all quarks, the charm quark is an elementary fermion with spin 1/2, and experiences all four fundamental interactions: gravitation, electromagnetism, weak interactions, and strong interactions. The antiparticle of the charm quark is the charm antiquark (sometimes called anticharm quark or simply anticharm), which differs from it only in that some of its properties have equal magnitude but opposite sign.

The existence of a fourth quark had been speculated by a number of authors around 1964 (for instance by James Bjorken and Sheldon Glashow), but its prediction is usually credited to Sheldon Glashow, John Iliopoulos and Luciano Maiani in 1970 (see GIM mechanism). The first charmed particle (a particle containing a charm quark) to be discovered was the J/ψ meson. It was discovered by a team at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), led by Burton Richter, and one at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), led by Samuel Ting.The 1974 discovery of the J/ψ (and thus the charm quark) ushered in a series of breakthroughs which are collectively known as the November Revolution.

Chiral symmetry breaking

In particle physics, chiral symmetry breaking is the spontaneous symmetry breaking of a chiral symmetry – usually by a gauge theory such as quantum chromodynamics, the quantum field theory of the strong interaction. Yoichiro Nambu was awarded the 2008 Nobel prize in physics for describing this phenomenon ("for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics").

Exotic baryon

Exotic baryons are a type of hadron (bound states of quarks and gluons) with half-integer spin, but have a quark content different to the three quarks (qqq) present in conventional baryons. An example would be pentaquarks, consisting of four quarks and one antiquark (qqqqq̅).

So far, the only observed exotic baryons are the pentaquarks P+c(4380) and P+c(4450), discovered in 2015 by the LHCb collaboration.Several types of exotic baryons that require physics beyond the Standard Model have been conjectured in order to explain specific experimental anomalies. There is no independent experimental evidence for any of these particles. One example is supersymmetric R-baryons, which are bound states of 3 quarks and a gluino. The lightest R-baryon is denoted as S0 and consists of an up quark, a down quark, a strange quark and a gluino. This particle is expected to be long lived or stable and has been invoked to explain ultra-high-energy cosmic rays. Stable exotic baryons are also candidates for strongly interacting dark matter.

It has been speculated by futurologist Ray Kurzweil that by the end of the 21st century it might be possible by using femtotechnology to create new chemical elements composed of exotic baryons that would eventually constitute a new periodic table of elements in which the elements would have completely different properties than the regular chemical elements.

Georgi–Jarlskog mass relation

In grand unified theories of the SU(5) or SO(10) type, there is a mass relation predicted between the electron and the down quark, the muon and the strange quark and the tau lepton and the bottom quark called the Georgi–Jarlskog mass relations. The relations were formulated by Howard Georgi and Cecilia Jarlskog.

At GUT scale, these are sometimes quoted as:

In the same paper it is written that:

Meaning that:


In nuclear physics and particle physics, isospin (I) is a quantum number related to the strong interaction. More specifically, isospin symmetry is a subset of the flavour symmetry seen more broadly in the interactions of baryons and mesons.

The name of the concept contains the term spin because its quantum mechanical description is mathematically similar to that of angular momentum (in particular, in the way it couples; for example, a proton-neutron pair can be coupled either in a state of total isospin 1 or in one of 0). Unlike angular momentum, however, it is a dimensionless quantity, and is not actually any type of spin.

Etymologically, the term was derived from isotopic spin, a confusing term to which nuclear physicists prefer isobaric spin, which is more precise in meaning. Before the concept of quarks were introduced, particles that are affected equally by the strong force but had different charges (e.g. protons and neutrons) were treated as being different states of the same particle, but having isospin values related to the number of charge states. A close examination of isospin symmetry ultimately led directly to the discovery and understanding of quarks, and of the development of Yang–Mills theory. Isospin symmetry remains an important concept in particle physics.

Lambda baryon

The Lambda baryons are a family of subatomic hadron particles containing one up quark, one down quark, and a third quark from a higher flavour generation, in a combination where the quantum wave function changes sign upon the flavour of any two quarks being swapped (thus differing from a Sigma baryon). They are thus baryons, with total isospin of 0, and have either neutral electric charge or the elementary charge +1.

Lambda baryons are usually represented by the symbols Λ0, Λ+c, Λ0b, and Λ+t. In this notation, the superscript character indicates whether the particle is electrically neutral (0) or carries a positive charge (+). The subscript character, or its absence, indicates whether the third quark is a strange quark (Λ0) (no subscript), a charm quark (Λ+c), a bottom quark (Λ0b), or a top quark (Λ+t). Physicists do not expect to observe a Lambda baryon with a top quark because the Standard Model of particle physics predicts that the mean lifetime of top quarks is roughly 5×10−25 seconds; that is about 1/20 of the mean timescale for strong interactions, which indicates that the top quark would decay before a Lambda baryon could form a hadron.

List of baryons

Baryons are composite particles made of three quarks, as opposed to mesons, which are composite particles made of one quark and one antiquark. Baryons and mesons are both hadrons, which are particles composed solely of quarks or both quarks and antiquarks. The term baryon is derived from the Greek "βαρύς" (barys), meaning "heavy", because, at the time of their naming, it was believed that baryons were characterized by having greater masses than other particles that were classed as matter.

Until a few years ago, it was believed that some experiments showed the existence of pentaquarks – baryons made of four quarks and one antiquark. The particle physics community as a whole did not view their existence as likely by 2006. On 13 July 2015, the LHCb collaboration at CERN reported results consistent with pentaquark states in the decay of bottom Lambda baryons (Λ0b).Since baryons are composed of quarks, they participate in the strong interaction. Leptons, on the other hand, are not composed of quarks and as such do not participate in the strong interaction. The most famous baryons are the protons and neutrons that make up most of the mass of the visible matter in the universe, whereas electrons, the other major component of atoms, are leptons. Each baryon has a corresponding antiparticle known as an antibaryon in which quarks are replaced by their corresponding antiquarks. For example, a proton is made of two up quarks and one down quark, while its corresponding antiparticle, the antiproton, is made of two up antiquarks and one down antiquark.

List of mesons

This list is of all known and predicted scalar, pseudoscalar and vector mesons. See list of particles for a more detailed list of particles found in particle physics.This article contains a list of mesons, unstable subatomic particles composed of one quark and one antiquark. They are part of the hadron particle family – particles made of quarks. The other members of the hadron family are the baryons – subatomic particles composed of three quarks. The main difference between mesons and baryons is that mesons have integer spin (thus are bosons) while baryons are fermions (half-integer spin). Because mesons are bosons, the Pauli exclusion principle does not apply to them. Because of this, they can act as force mediating particles on short distances, and thus play a part in processes such as the nuclear interaction.

Since mesons are composed of quarks, they participate in both the weak and strong interactions. Mesons with net electric charge also participate in the electromagnetic interaction. They are classified according to their quark content, total angular momentum, parity, and various other properties such as C-parity and G-parity. While no meson is stable, those of lower mass are nonetheless more stable than the most massive mesons, and are easier to observe and study in particle accelerators or in cosmic ray experiments. They are also typically less massive than baryons, meaning that they are more easily produced in experiments, and will exhibit higher-energy phenomena sooner than baryons would. For example, the charm quark was first seen in the J/Psi meson (J/ψ) in 1974, and the bottom quark in the upsilon meson (ϒ) in 1977.Each meson has a corresponding antiparticle (antimeson) where quarks are replaced by their corresponding antiquarks and vice versa. For example, a positive pion (π+) is made of one up quark and one down antiquark; and its corresponding antiparticle, the negative pion (π−), is made of one up antiquark and one down quark. Some experiments show the evidence of tetraquarks – "exotic" mesons made of two quarks and two antiquarks, but the particle physics community as a whole does not view their existence as likely, although still possible.The symbols encountered in these lists are: I (isospin), J (total angular momentum), P (parity), C (C-parity), G (G-parity), u (up quark), d (down quark), s (strange quark), c (charm quark), b (bottom quark), Q (charge), B (baryon number), S (strangeness), C (charm), and B′ (bottomness), as well as a wide array of subatomic particles (hover for name).


In particle physics, a pion (or a pi meson, denoted with the Greek letter pi: π) is any of three subatomic particles: π0, π+, and π−. Each pion consists of a quark and an antiquark and is therefore a meson. Pions are the lightest mesons and, more generally, the lightest hadrons. They are unstable, with the charged pions π+ and π− decaying with a mean lifetime of 26.033 nanoseconds (2.6033×10−8 seconds), and the neutral pion π0 decaying with a much shorter lifetime of 84 attoseconds (8.4×10−17 seconds). Charged pions most often decay into muons and muon neutrinos, while neutral pions generally decay into gamma rays.

The exchange of virtual pions, along with vector, rho and omega mesons, provides an explanation for the residual strong force between nucleons. Pions are not produced in radioactive decay, but commonly are in high energy collisions between hadrons. Pions also result from some matter-antimatter annihilation events. All types of pions are also produced in natural processes when high energy cosmic ray protons and other hadronic cosmic ray components interact with matter in Earth's atmosphere. In 2013, the detection of characteristic gamma rays originating from the decay of neutral pions in two supernova remnants has shown that pions are produced copiously after supernovas, most probably in conjunction with production of high energy protons that are detected on Earth as cosmic rays.The concept of mesons as the carrier particles of the nuclear force was first proposed in 1935 by Hideki Yukawa. While the muon was first proposed to be this particle after its discovery in 1936, later work found that it did not participate in the strong nuclear interaction. The pions, which turned out to be examples of Yukawa's proposed mesons, were discovered later: the charged pions in 1947, and the neutral pion in 1950.

Positron emission

Positron emission or beta plus decay (β+ decay) is a subtype of radioactive decay called beta decay, in which a proton inside a radionuclide nucleus is converted into a neutron while releasing a positron and an electron neutrino (νe). Positron emission is mediated by the weak force. The positron is a type of beta particle (β+), the other beta particle being the electron (β−) emitted from the β− decay of a nucleus.

An example of positron emission (β+ decay) is shown with magnesium-23 decaying into sodium-23:

2312Mg → 2311Na + e+ + νeBecause positron emission decreases proton number relative to neutron number, positron decay happens typically in large "proton-rich" radionuclides. Positron decay results in nuclear transmutation, changing an atom of one chemical element into an atom of an element with an atomic number that is less by one unit.

Positron emission occurs only very rarely naturally on earth, when induced by a cosmic ray or from one in a hundred thousand decays of potassium-40, a rare isotope, 0.012% of that element on earth.

Positron emission should not be confused with electron emission or beta minus decay (β− decay), which occurs when a neutron turns into a proton and the nucleus emits an electron and an antineutrino.

Positron emission is different from proton decay, the hypothetical decay of protons, not necessarily those bound with neutrons, not necessarily through the emission of a positron and not as part of nuclear physics, but rather of particle physics.


A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol p or p+, with a positive electric charge of +1e elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collectively referred to as "nucleons".

One or more protons are present in the nucleus of every atom; they are a necessary part of the nucleus. The number of protons in the nucleus is the defining property of an element, and is referred to as the atomic number (represented by the symbol Z). Since each element has a unique number of protons, each element has its own unique atomic number.

The word proton is Greek for "first", and this name was given to the hydrogen nucleus by Ernest Rutherford in 1920. In previous years, Rutherford had discovered that the hydrogen nucleus (known to be the lightest nucleus) could be extracted from the nuclei of nitrogen by atomic collisions. Protons were therefore a candidate to be a fundamental particle, and hence a building block of nitrogen and all other heavier atomic nuclei.

Although protons were originally considered fundamental or elementary particles, in the modern Standard Model of particle physics, protons are classified as hadrons, like neutrons, the other nucleon (particles present in atomic nuclei), composite particles composed of three valence quarks: two up quarks of charge +2/3e and one down quark of charge –1/3e. The rest masses of quarks contribute only about 1% of a proton's mass, however. The remainder of a proton's mass is due to quantum chromodynamics binding energy, which includes the kinetic energy of the quarks and the energy of the gluon fields that bind the quarks together. Because protons are not fundamental particles, they possess a measurable size; the root mean square charge radius of a proton is about 0.84–0.87 fm or 0.84×10−15 to 0.87×10−15 m.At sufficiently low temperatures, free protons will bind to electrons. However, the character of such bound protons does not change, and they remain protons. A fast proton moving through matter will slow by interactions with electrons and nuclei, until it is captured by the electron cloud of an atom. The result is a protonated atom, which is a chemical compound of hydrogen. In vacuum, when free electrons are present, a sufficiently slow proton may pick up a single free electron, becoming a neutral hydrogen atom, which is chemically a free radical. Such "free hydrogen atoms" tend to react chemically with many other types of atoms at sufficiently low energies. When free hydrogen atoms react with each other, they form neutral hydrogen molecules (H2), which are the most common molecular component of molecular clouds in interstellar space.

Sakata model

In particle physics, the Sakata model of hadrons was a precursor to the quark model. It proposed that the proton, neutron, and Lambda baryon were elementary particles (sometimes referred to as sakatons), and that all other known hadrons were made of them. The model was proposed by Shoichi Sakata in 1956. The model was successful in explaining many features of hadrons, but was supplanted by the quark model as the understanding of hadrons progressed.

Subatomic particle

In the physical sciences, subatomic particles are particles much smaller than atoms. The two types of subatomic particles are: elementary particles, which according to current theories are not made of other particles; and composite particles. Particle physics and nuclear physics study these particles and how they interact.

The idea of a particle underwent serious rethinking when experiments showed that light could behave like a stream of particles (called photons) as well as exhibiting wave-like properties. This led to the new concept of wave–particle duality to reflect that quantum-scale "particles" behave like both particles and waves (they are sometimes described as wavicles to reflect this). Another new concept, the uncertainty principle, states that some of their properties taken together, such as their simultaneous position and momentum, cannot be measured exactly. In more recent times, wave–particle duality has been shown to apply not only to photons but to increasingly massive particles as well.Interactions of particles in the framework of quantum field theory are understood as creation and annihilation of quanta of corresponding fundamental interactions. This blends particle physics with field theory.

Top quark

The top quark, also known as the t quark (symbol: t) or truth quark, is the most massive of all observed elementary particles. Like all quarks, the top quark is a fermion with spin 1/2, and experiences all four fundamental interactions: gravitation, electromagnetism, weak interactions, and strong interactions. It has an electric charge of +2/3 e. It has a mass of 173.0 ± 0.4 GeV/c2, which is about the same mass as an atom of rhenium. The antiparticle of the top quark is the top antiquark (symbol: t, sometimes called antitop quark or simply antitop), which differs from it only in that some of its properties have equal magnitude but opposite sign.

The top quark interacts primarily by the strong interaction, but can only decay through the weak force. It decays to a W boson and either a bottom quark (most frequently), a strange quark, or, on the rarest of occasions, a down quark. The Standard Model predicts its mean lifetime to be roughly 5×10−25 s. This is about a twentieth of the timescale for strong interactions, and therefore it does not form hadrons, giving physicists a unique opportunity to study a "bare" quark (all other quarks hadronize, meaning that they combine with other quarks to form hadrons, and can only be observed as such). Because it is so massive, the properties of the top quark allow predictions to be made of the mass of the Higgs boson under certain extensions of the Standard Model (see Mass and coupling to the Higgs boson below). As such, it is extensively studied as a means to discriminate between competing theories.

Its existence (and that of the bottom quark) was postulated in 1973 by Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa to explain the observed CP violations in kaon decay, and was discovered in 1995 by the CDF and DØ experiments at Fermilab. Kobayashi and Maskawa won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics for the prediction of the top and bottom quark, which together form the third generation of quarks.

Up quark

The up quark or u quark (symbol: u) is the lightest of all quarks, a type of elementary particle, and a major constituent of matter. It, along with the down quark, forms the neutrons (one up quark, two down quarks) and protons (two up quarks, one down quark) of atomic nuclei. It is part of the first generation of matter, has an electric charge of +2/3 e and a bare mass of 2.2+0.5−0.4 MeV/c2.. Like all quarks, the up quark is an elementary fermion with spin 1/2, and experiences all four fundamental interactions: gravitation, electromagnetism, weak interactions, and strong interactions. The antiparticle of the up quark is the up antiquark (sometimes called antiup quark or simply antiup), which differs from it only in that some of its properties, such as charge have equal magnitude but opposite sign.

Its existence (along with that of the down and strange quarks) was postulated in 1964 by Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig to explain the Eightfold Way classification scheme of hadrons. The up quark was first observed by experiments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in 1968.

Weak interaction

In particle physics, the weak interaction, which is also often called the weak force or weak nuclear force, is the mechanism of interaction between subatomic particles that is responsible for the radioactive decay of atoms. The weak interaction serves an essential role in nuclear fission, and the theory regarding it in terms of both its behavior and effects is sometimes called quantum flavordynamics (QFD). However, the term QFD is rarely used because the weak force is better understood in terms of electroweak theory (EWT). In addition to this, QFD is related to quantum chromodynamics (QCD), which deals with the strong interaction, and quantum electrodynamics (QED), which deals with the electromagnetic force.

The effective range of the weak force is limited to subatomic distances, and is less than the diameter of a proton. It is one of the four known force-related fundamental interactions of nature, alongside the strong interaction, electromagnetism, and gravitation.

Xi baryon

The Xi baryons or cascade particles are a family of subatomic hadron particles which have the symbol Ξ and may have an electric charge (Q) of +2 e, +1 e, 0, or −1 e, where e is the elementary charge. Like all conventional baryons, they contain three quarks. Xi baryons, in particular, contain one up or down quark plus two more massive quarks: either strange, charm or bottom. They are historically called the cascade particles because of their unstable state; they decay rapidly into lighter particles through a chain of decays. The first discovery of a charged Xi baryon was in cosmic ray experiments by the Manchester group in 1952. The first discovery of the neutral Xi particle was at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in 1959. It was also observed as a daughter product from the decay of the omega baryon (Ω−) observed at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1964. The Xi spectrum is important to nonperturbative quantum chromodynamics (QCD), such as Lattice QCD.

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