Researchers have recently discovered, for the first time ever, that Higgs-Boson particles decay into bottom quarks.
Physics enthusiasts might remember when the Large Hadron Collider found the Higgs boson in 2012. For the uninitiated, the Higgs-Boson is a subatomic particle which gives mass to other fundamental subatomic particles.
The Higgs field acts as an invisible force with highly observable effects. One of our fellow writers, Zayan Guedim wrote a bit about it last year. As the article states, up until that 2012 discovery, science operated on Higgs-Bosons being purely theoretical.
So what does the fact that this particle can decay mean for future science?
Long-Sought Higgs-Bosons Decay Evidence
Previously, ATLAS experiments at CERN showed that the Higgs-Boson decayed into two tau particles. These belong to a subatomic particle group known as fermions (the ones which make up matter — no big deal).
But now, as of August 28th, 2018, ATLAS and CMS announced together that the Higgs-Boson transforms into bottom quarks when it decays. Researchers predict that this is the most common way that Higgs-Bosons decay.
The two research teams struggled to isolate evidence due to background processes that mimic other signals. After years of refinement, both CMS and ATLAS found evidence for their hypotheses.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory issued a press release about the discovery yesterday.
This joins the number of around 30% of Higgs-Boson particle decay types scientists can identify. Despite this low number, Viviana Cavaliere, a physicist at the DOE Brookhaven National Laboratory and ATLAS worker, claims that 60% decay into bottom quarks.
These numbers and experiments all follow and extrapolate from The Standard Model.
What’s Next for the Higgs-Boson Particle?
According to Giacinto Piacquadio, Stony Brook University physicist and co-leader of the Higgs-to-bottom-quarks analysis group, some Higgs-Boson particles could produce dark matter particles as they decay.
In fact, the evidence that Higgs-Boson particles decay into bottom quarks can help researchers further identify “potentially invisible decays”.
As with this discovery, the process to identify new aspects surrounding the Higgs-Boston particle will likely be slow and built on years of work and research.
“We needed to analyze hundreds of thousands of events before we could illuminate this process, which is happening on top of a mountain of similar-looking background events,” said Chris Palmer, a Princeton scientist who also worked on the CMS analysis.
Scientists want to increase precision in these measurements moving forward. This will enable greater resolution for study and, hopefully, more insights into what other secrets Higgs-Boson particle may have in store.