The Higgs boson, the long-sought "God particle," may have been discovered in 2012, new research adds to evidence for that discovery. This sub-atomic particle is theorized to provide objects with their mass.
A particle discovered two years ago decays into a type of sub-atomic particle called fermions. These are a family of particles with includes quarks - the components of protons and neutrons, as well as leptons, a family containing electrons. Researchers examining the particle discovered in 2012 include physicists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Particle physicists from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) found a particle in 2012 that did not behave like any seen before. It had a mass of 125 gigaelectron-volts (GeV). Researchers immediately noticed similarities between their particle and the theoretical Higgs Boson. Physicists calculated that the Higgs boson, could decay into fermions. An international group of physicists has determined that the breakdown of the particle is consistent with properties predicted for the elusive particle.
"When the Higgs boson discovery was announced in 2012, it was based on measurements of the decay of the Higgs to other bosons, the carriers of nature's forces. The results... discuss the decay of Higgs bosons directly to fermions, the particles that make up matter," CERN officials reported.
Protons were accelerated toward each other, and then guided to a collision at nearly the speed of light. Detectors were used to record the new particles that resulted from the ultra-high velocity events.
Physicists were carrying out the experiments, searching for a type of particle known as a tau lepton, 3,500 times more massive than electrons. The more mass a particle has, the more it should interact with a Higgs-boson field, permeating the Universe.
Experiments still had to be conducted to confirm the identity of the discovery. Initial experiments showed a three-sigma confidence level, meaning the results of the experiment only has a one in 10,000 chance of happening without a Higgs. The team now wants to increase that certainty to five sigma, having just a one in two million chance of being wrong.
The particle accelerator at CERN is currently offline, as facility managers increase the power of the facility by over 60 percent. That will allow researchers to conduct experiments on the basic constituents of matter in a way not possible before.
"Within the current level of precision there is still room for other models with particles that look like the Standard Model Higgs, so we need to accumulate more data to figure out if there is a deviation," Markus Klute, assistant professor of physics at MIT, said.
Physicists also wanted to know if just one type of Higgs boson exists, or if the particle is found forms other than the one they detected.
"This is an enormous breakthrough. Now we know that particles like electrons get their mass by coupling to the Higgs field, which is really exciting," Klute told the press.
Study of the elusive particle was announced in the journal Nature Physics.