London: Scientists studying data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) who announced the possible discovery of the “God particle”—Higgs boson—now say they may have actually found not one, but two previously unknown particles.
The most recent release from the Atlas experiment at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) showed that the scientists seem to have found one Higgs boson with one mass, and then another with a statistically significant slightly higher mass, the Daily Mail reported. There seems to be one version of Higgs boson with a mass of 123.5 gigaelectron, or GeV, volts (the unit particle physicists prefer using to measure mass) and a second Higgs with a mass of 126.6 GeV.
First proposed in 1964, the Higgs boson is the last missing piece of the Standard Model, a widely accepted theory that describes the basic building blocks of the universe. According to that model of our world, the Higgs particle must exist to bestow mass on other fundamental particles. However, until it was possible to build high-powered colliders like the LHC, it has been impossible to detect.
Researchers at CERN in July announced that they believed their experiments had finally revealed the Higgs, but their findings may have been far from definite, the paper said. The Higgs they found appeared to show that the Higgs seemed to be decaying into two photons more often than they had expected—hinting at a new, as yet unimagined physics.
Now, scientists with the project’s Atlas experiment have finally admitted the bizarre revelations from their data—that there appears to be not one Higgs’ boson signal, but two, the paper quoted Scientific American as saying. Scientific American also reported that the Atlas team has spent the past month trying to find out whether it had made a mistake in their analysis. They have so far found none, raising the possibility that there may indeed be two Higgs bosons.
The anomalous result could of course still have been caused be a statistical blip that is not repeated as further data is collected, but there are certain versions of the Standard Model that predict the existence of multiple Higgs particles.
However, these theories do not predict why one kind would decay into two Z particles, while the other decays into photons. Furthermore, the similarity in mass of the two particles is something that even the variants of the Standard Model are not able to explain.
For the moment, the scientists at CERN are not too concerned. Tommaso Dorigo, an experimental particle physicist on the project CMS experiments says that it is likely to turn out to be a blip.