Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Physicists Witness Decay of Higgs Boson

   Physicists working at CERN's Large Hadron Collider have observed the decaying of the Higgs boson into a particle called a bottom quark and its antimatter counterpart, an antibottom quark. This elusive interaction is predicted to comprise of 57% of the particle's decays, yet has remained elusive until now.
   A single Higgs boson particle weights about 130 protons and it only lasts for about 10-trillionths of a nanosecond before it decays into less massive particles. When it was first discovered almost six years, it was through the decaying into two photons, which is predicted to occur only 9% of the time.
   To observe this interaction, the teams working on this project combined data from two separate runs using the Large Hadron Collider. Applying complex analysis methods to the data, they discovered the decay with a significance exceeding 5 standard deviations.
   The observation of this process is crucial as its results could either lend support to the Standard Model of physics or question its foundations and point to new physics. “The experiments continue to home in on the Higgs particle, which is often considered a portal to new physics,” said Dr. Eckhard Elsen, Director for Research and Computing at CERN.
   “The analysis methods have now been shown to reach the precision required for exploration of the full physics landscape, including hopefully new physics that so far hides so subtly.”

Or read the full study papers here:

Image: The Higgs boson decaying to two bottom quarks (blue cones), in association with a W boson decaying to a muon (red) and a neutrino. The neutrino leaves the detector unseen, and is reconstructed through the missing transverse energy (dashed line). Image extracted via ATLAS Collaboaration/CERN

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