In a momentous event for physics, CERN physicists collaborating through ATLAS and CMS have finally, at long last, observed the Higgs boson particle decaying into bottom quarks, a new discovery which has been six years in the making after the exciting announcement of the Higgs boson in 2012.
According to ATLAS, the transition into two bottom quarks is estimated to account for around 60 percent of Higgs boson decays. ATLAS spokesperson Karl Jakobs announced the results of the ATLAS collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider today, noting that there were certainly doubts as to whether physicists would be able to catch the Higgs boson disintegrating.
“ATLAS is proud to announce the observation of this important and challenging Higgs boson decay. While the result is certainly a confirmation of the Standard Model, it is equally a triumph for our analysis teams. During the early preparations of the LHC, there were doubts on whether this observation could be achieved. Our success is thanks to the excellent performance of the LHC and the ATLAS detector, and the application of highly sophisticated analysis techniques to our large dataset.”
Physicists were curious to see whether the decay of the Higgs boson would follow the Standard Model of particle physics which gives the prediction that 60 percent of Higgs boson decays will see the Higgs particle continuing life as bottom quarks which, out of the six different flavors of quarks, just happens to be the second heaviest out of them all.
— CERN (@CERN) August 28, 2018
This made the new experiment all the more important as physicists would then know with the results whether the Standard Model, which provides quarks with mass, should be used or whether physicists needed to look at a completely new kind of physics.
Part of the reason why it has taken six years to spot the Higgs boson decay is because there are actually quite a few different ways in which to use proton-proton collisions to create bottom quarks. Because of this, it is quite difficult to “isolate the Higgs-boson decay signal from the background noise associated with such processes.”
However, Higgs boson decay channels that aren’t quite as common, like the process of photons decaying, are much simpler to differentiate from background noise, and it was determined that the decay of the Higgs boson was in keeping with the Standard Model prediction.
“To extract the signal, the ATLAS and CMS collaborations each combined data from the first and second runs of the LHC, which involved collisions at energies of 7, 8 and 13 TeV. They then applied complex analysis methods to the data. The upshot, for both ATLAS and CMS, was the detection of the decay of the Higgs boson to a pair of bottom quarks with a significance that exceeds 5 standard deviations.”
ATLAS has – at long last – observed the Higgs boson decaying into a pair of bottom (b) quarks! In this video, our physicists explain why this is such an important milestone. Learn more: https://t.co/dhlmtwYjdr pic.twitter.com/ltdkSdortC
— ATLAS Experiment (@ATLASexperiment) August 28, 2018
Now that CERN physicists at the Large Hadron Collider have successfully observed the Higgs boson decaying into a pair of bottom quarks, they will be gathering more data and continuing with their measurements of the Higgs into other decays, including its decay into muons.