Physicists at CERN are currently analyzing data to learn whether a completely new and mysterious ghost particle that suddenly appeared at the Large Hadron Collider during an experiment is actually a real one.
As The Guardian reported, it was the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) machine, a general-purpose detector at the LHC, that first emitted strange “bumps” in data that ordinarily wouldn’t be there. Could these bumps be proof that a new particle has been found at the Large Hadron Collider? Physicists are certainly intrigued.
Theorist Alexandre Nikitenko, who is part of the CMS group that are currently analyzing the new LHC data, explained that while he is certainly remaining critical about the new data, he is nevertheless choosing to be optimistic at the same time.
“I’d say theorists are excited and experimentalists are very skeptical. As a physicist I must be very critical, but as the author of this analysis I must have some optimism too.”
Bumps in data at the Large Hadron Collider could certainly mean a new particle has been discovered. After all, a lot of the particles that the LHC creates do quickly decay into particles like electrons and photons, and with the Higgs Boson particle also decaying swiftly, tiny mass particles and a momentum that is greatly increased can be spotted by detectors at the LHC.
What may be another new particle ended up producing muons which were measured as having a mass of 28 GeV (giga-electronvolts), and so far there is nothing that predicts a mass like this that is known about in current models.
CERN's About to Make an Announcement About Tantalising 'Bumps' in Large Hadron Collider Data https://t.co/gePVdeapNq— ScienceAlert (@ScienceAlert) November 1, 2018
However, the reason for this bump in the LHC’s data could be complicated. For instance, the bumps were much more noticeable when the Large Hadron Collider was running low energy collisions, rather than the more high energy ones that took place after the upgrade was completed. Nikitenko speculates that a situation like this is possible when background particles formed during higher energy collisions tone down signals and make them less noticeable.
Theorist Georg Weiglein has noted that it is going to be quite difficult to figure out what kind of model physicists should be looking at that would predict the kind of particle that may have been detected.
“This does not exclude the possibility that such a signal could actually exist. On the contrary, it would be even more exciting if a signal were observed that does not seem to fit into our present models. Further experimental information is eagerly awaited.”
Meanwhile, CERN researcher Michelangelo Mangano stated the following,
“Of course theorists are always happy when some anomaly shows up in the data. And I am confident many colleagues have started looking into this. However it is a bit early to get excited. Given that Atlas has yet to release their analysis, and given that much more data is on tape even for CMS, it is clear that the effect will soon be confirmed or diluted away.”
Physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider have said that it could take the CMS team a year’s worth of analysis to either confirm or deny the existence of this new particle, so an answer won’t be forthcoming just yet.