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Two New Subatomic Particles Discovered by CERN Physicists

GENEVA — Scientists at the world's largest smasher said Wednesday they have discovered two new subatomic particles never seen before that could widen our understanding of the universe. An experiment using the European Organization for Nuclear Research's Large Hadron Collider found the new particles, which were predicted to exist, and are both baryons made from three quarks bound together by a strong force. In a statement Wednesday, officials at the lab known by its French acronym CERN announced the discovery, which could shed more light on how things work beyond the "Standard Model" physics theory explaining the basic building blocks of matter. The results also were submitted to the publication Physical Review Letters.

The new particles, known as the Xi_b'- and Xi_b*-, are more than six times as massive as the protons that scientists have been deliberately crashing into each other in a 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel on the Swiss-French border near Geneva to see what they can discover about the makeup of the universe and its tiniest particles. A related particle, the Xi_b*0, was found at CERN in 2012.

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— The Associated Press and NBC News staff