How round is the electron? The electron is spherical ? well, nearly.
The standard model of particle physics predicts a slightly aspheric electron, with a distortion characterized by the electric dipole moment (EDM) that is far too small to be detected at current experimental sensitivities. However, some extensions to the standard model predict much larger EDM values that should be detectable. New experiments, using the dipolar ytterbium fluoride rather than spherical thallium, achieve the highest precision measurement of the EDM to date. At this new level of precision the EDM is consistent with zero, and the electron is indeed a sphere. This finding should help to constrain theories of particle physics and cosmology beyond the standard model.
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