Skip to Content

The 7 Heaviest Particles in the Universe

The word particles have a ton of meanings. In its most common form it means; a minute quantity or fragment, or a relatively small or the smallest discrete portion or amount of something. 

However, from the above definitions you can agree that when used in that sense, particles can not be subjected to a universal weight test to even adduce which particle would be considered hence the particles this piece seeks to discuss doesn’t fall within the ambit of the above definition. 

For this piece, particles are small localized objects to which can be ascribed several physical or chemical properties, such as volume, density, or mass.

While there are tons of particles existing in the world, the following are considered as the heaviest following in-depth research by various scientists in no particular order;

1. Top Quark

The mass of the top quark, the heaviest fundamental particle, has been calculated by scientists. 

The Tevatron at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, were used to make the measurement. Scientists revealed Wednesday at a physics conference in Italy that four distinct tests discovered a combined value for the top quark of 173.34 (+/- 0.76) gigaelectronvolts divided by the speed of light squared.

The Fermilab CDF and DZero consortia recently published 25 new experimental results that improved top quark measurement precision.

2. Neutron 

The neutron is a subatomic particle with the symbol n or n0 and a mass slightly more than that of a proton. It has a neutral charge (no positive or negative charge) and a mass slightly greater than that of a proton.

The neutron is required for nuclear power production. In the decade following James Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron in 1932, neutrons were employed to induce a wide range of nuclear transmutations.

When nuclear fission was discovered in 1938, it was rapidly apparent that if a fission event produced neutrons, each of these neutrons may trigger more fission events, resulting in a nuclear chain reaction. The first self-sustaining nuclear reactor (Chicago Pile-1, 1942) and the first nuclear weapon were the results of these events and discoveries (Trinity, 1945).

3. Proton

The discovery of the proton dates to the earliest investigations of atomic structure. While studying streams of ionized gaseous atoms and molecules from which electrons had been stripped, Wilhelm Wien (1898) and J.J. Thomson (1910) identified a positive particle equal in mass to the hydrogen atom.

Ernest Rutherford showed (1919) that nitrogen under alpha-particle bombardment ejects what appear to be hydrogen nuclei. By 1920 he had accepted the hydrogen nucleus as an elementary particle, naming it proton.

The positive charge of a proton is the same as that of an electron, and its rest mass is 1.67262 1027 kg or 1,836 times that of an electron.

4. Higgs Boson

The Higgs boson is an elementary particle in particle physics that is created by the quantum excitation of the Higgs field, which is one of the fields in particle physics theory. The Higgs particle is a large scalar boson with zero spin, no electric charge, and no color charge in the Standard Model. It’s also extremely unstable, rapidly decomposing into other particles.

It is named after physicist Peter Higgs, who proposed the Higgs mechanism in 1964 alongside five other scientists to explain why some particles have mass. 

In 2012, a particle with a mass of 125 GeV was identified, and with more exact measurements, it was proven to be the Higgs boson.

5. Alpha particles

Alpha particles, also known as alpha rays or alpha radiation, are made up of two protons and two neutrons bonded together to form a helium-4 nucleus-like particle. They’re usually made during the alpha decay process, although they can also be made in other ways. Alpha particles are named from the Greek alphabet’s initial letter α.

6. Deuteron 

After amassing high energy in particle accelerators, deuterons are utilized as projectiles to create nuclear reactions by ionizing deuterium (stripping the solitary electron away from the atom). The capture of a slow neutron by a proton, along with the emission of a gamma photon, produces a deuteron.

The mass of the deuteron is twice that of the proton.

 It is indicated by the letters D or 2H. The mass of a deuteron is measured in atomic mass units (AMU) or electron volts (eV). The deuteron has a charge of +1e. This is because protons are present.

7. Muon

Muons are elementary particles that are similar to electrons in that they have an electric charge of 1 e and a spin of 1/2, but they have a far higher mass. It’s referred to as a lepton. The muon, like other leptons, is assumed to be devoid of any sub-structure — that is, it is not regarded to be made up of any smaller particles.

Muons accelerate more slowly than electrons in electromagnetic fields due to their higher mass, and it generates less bremsstrahlung (deceleration radiation). Because the slowdown of electrons and muons is mostly due to energy loss by the bremsstrahlung mechanism, this permits muons of a given energy to penetrate significantly deeper into matter.

For example, “secondary muons,” which are formed when cosmic rays collide with the atmosphere, can pierce the atmosphere and reach the Earth’s surface, as well as deep mines.

Muons are not created by radioactive decay because their mass and energy are larger than the decay energy of radioactivity. However, high-energy interactions in normal matter, some particle accelerator studies with hadrons, and cosmic ray interactions with matter all produce large numbers of them. Initially, these interactions yield pi mesons, which almost always decay to muons.