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Hyperons are particles that are made of quarks. What makes them different from other baryons (particles made of three quarks) is that they must have at least one strange quark, but no charm quarks or bottom quarks. Strange quarks have a property known as strangeness. Strangeness causes the strange quark–and all other particles bonded with it–to not decay by strong force, but instead due to the much slower weak force. Since all quarks are fermions (which means that no two of them can be in the same point in space at the same point in time), each quark has a spin of 1/2, adding up to a total spin of 3/2 for a hyperon. This quickly decays into a 1/2 spin particle.
Hyperons themselves decay due to weak force. There are dozens of different hyperon combinations. For example, a Λ (lambda) hyperon has a charge of 0, and is often written as Λ0. When it decays, it usually creates one proton, and one antipion. Like many forms of weak force decay, there is more than one possible outcome. A Λ0 also has a significantly lower, but still possible, chance to decay into a neutron and an uncharged pion. Λ0 hyperons have an average lifespan of 2.6x10–10 seconds, which makes it one of the longest living hyperons.
Scientists still study hyperons in labs across the world, such as CERN, Fermilab, and SLAC. Hyperons provide answers questions for problems such as CP Violation, in which symmetries that were believed to be true may not be true.
- "Hyperon". Wikipedia. 17 September 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperon. Retrieved 17 December 2010.
- "CP violation". Wikipedia. 27 November 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CP_violation. Retrieved 17 December 2010.
- "Strangeness". Wikipedia. 31 October 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strangeness. Retrieved 17 December 2010.