CERN’s ATLAS and CMS experiments have observed a new particle – consistent with the elusive Higgs boson – in the mass region around 125-126 GeV/c2, it was announced during a seminar at the Swiss-based laboratory on 4 July.
“The five sigma signal – at around 125 GeV/c2 – we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela. “The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks.”
The announced results are in a preliminary stage, with some of this year’s data still being under analysis. Publication of this month’s results is expected in the coming weeks, with a more detailed understanding of this new discovery – following further data-taking – expected later this year.
The next mission for the LHC will be to pin down the properties of the new particle, and determine whether – on closer inspection – it matches the Higgs, or is something else entirely.
The Higgs boson is a long-hypothesised particle – described by the Standard Model of physics – which represents an excitation of the ‘Higgs Field’, with which particles are believed to interact to acquire mass. The discovery – or elimination – of the presence of Higgs bosons is one of the primary aims of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.
“We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle’s properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe.”
Congratulations were given on the day to CERN’s researchers, technicians and other staff, whose tireless efforts are credited with making the search for the Higgs such a success. Commenting on her own collaboration, ATLAS spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti said: “I have been in ATLAS for many years … and I have been amazed by the dedication, the competence, the skills and the talents of everyone in the experiment.”
The conference at CERN was held as an introductory event to the 2012 ICHEP conference – the major particle physics meeting of the year.
More information can be found on the CERN website.