Scientists believe they could be nearing the discovery of a new fifth force of nature.
It came after an experiment confirmed the peculiar wobble of a subatomic particle called a muon.
The findings suggest scientists may be missing something in their current understanding of physics, perhaps some unknown particle or force.
Muons orbit the nucleus of an atom, like electrons. However, they are heavier than 200.
On Thursday, scientists announced the results from an experiment conducted at Fermilab in Illinois by the US Energy Department.
The experiment examined muons moving through a magnet field with speeds close to light.
Muons, like electrons, have a tiny internal magnet that causes them to wobble.
The speed of wobble was much slower than predicted in this experiment, suggesting that it was caused by an unknown factor.
A previous experiment in 2021 similarly showed an anomalous wobble.
The new results are based on four times as much data. This gives them more confidence.
‘New features of space-time’
Brendan Casey, a senior scientist at Fermilab said: “We are looking for an indication that the muon is interacting with something that we do not know about.
“It could be anything – new particles, new forces, new dimensions, new features of space-time, anything.”
Rebecca Chislett, a University College London physicist and co-author of the study, said: “Yes, it is fair to say that it could be pointing to unknown particles or forces.
“With all this new knowledge the result still agrees with the previous results, and this is hugely exciting.”
The experiment was conducted at minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
The researchers shot beams of muons into a doughnut-shaped superconducting magnetic storage ring measuring 50ft in diameter.
A paper detailing the research findings has been published in Physical Review Letters.
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