Theoretical physicists may have discovered evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature after unearthing a possible new subatomic particle.
Researchers said the potential force could redefine physicist’s understanding of how the universe is held together.
“If true, it’s revolutionary,” said Jonathan Feng, professor of physics & astronomy at the University of California.
“For decades, we’ve known of four fundamental forces: gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces.
“If confirmed by further experiments, this discovery of a possible fifth force would completely change our understanding of the universe, with consequences for the unification of forces and dark matter.”
Re-analysing Hungarian research into dark photons, the team confirmed that a radioactive decay anomaly points to the existence of a new particle.
“The [Hungarian] experimentalists weren’t able to claim that it was a new force,” Feng said. “They simply saw an excess of events that indicated a new particle, but it was not clear to them whether it was a matter particle or a force-carrying particle.”
The new study claims the evidence “strongly disfavours” the idea that the particle is a matter particle or a dark photons.
Instead, researchers proposed that the particle indicates a fifth force, a theory which unifies all existing data.
The proposed particle has been labelled a “protophobic X boson”. While the normal electric force acts on electrons and protons, this particle interacts only with electrons and neutrons, distinguishing it from all other bosons.
Feng believes that the potential fifth force might be joined to the electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces as “manifestations of one grander, more fundamental force”.
He also speculated that there may be a separate dark sector with its own matter and forces.
“It’s possible that these two sectors talk to each other and interact with one another through somewhat veiled but fundamental interactions,” Feng said.
“This dark sector force may manifest itself as this protophobic force we’re seeing as a result of the Hungarian experiment. In a broader sense, it fits in with our original research to understand the nature of dark matter.”
The new paper has been published in the journal Physical Review Letters new paper has been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
It was announced earlier this month that a much anticipated potential new particle was simply a statistical blip.