The first measurements of femtoscopic correlations with the particle pair combinations $\pi^\pm$K$^0_{\rm S}$ in pp collisions at $\sqrt{s}=13$ TeV at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are reported by the ALICE experiment. Using the femtoscopic approach, it is shown that it is possible to study the elusive K$^*_0(700)$ particle that has been considered a tetraquark candidate for over forty years. Boson source parameters and final-state interaction parameters are extracted by fitting a model assuming a Gaussian source to the experimentally measured two-particle correlation functions. The final-state interaction is modeled through a resonant scattering amplitude, defined in terms of a mass and a coupling parameter, decaying into a $\pi^\pm$K$^0_{\rm S}$ pair. The extracted mass and Breit-Wigner width, derived from the coupling parameter, of the final-state interaction are found to be consistent with previous measurements of the K$^*_0(700)$. The small value and increasing behavior of the correlation strength with increasing source size support the hypothesis that the K$^*_0(700)$ is a four-quark state, i.e. a tetraquark state. This latter trend is also confirmed via a simple geometric model that assumes a tetraquark structure of the K$^*_0(700)$ resonance.

Submitted to: **PLB **

e-Print: arXiv:2312.12830 | PDF | inSPIRE

CERN-EP-2023-287

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