Scientists say that the “most comprehensive study” of the Higgs boson reveals that the particle behaves precisely as expected and could help unravel some of the biggest mysteries in physics, including the nature of dark matter.
Two new studies based on 10,000 trillion proton-on-proton collisions performed inside the LHC during its second run, which ended in 2018, analyzed the 8 million Higgs boson particles detected by the LHC’s ATLAS and CMS detectors.
The studies were published on Monday (July 4), the 10th anniversary of the discovery of the Higgs boson by the LHC, the world’s largest particle smasher. They show that the particle behaves precisely as predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, the all-encompassing theory describing how the basic building blocks of the universe hold together.
The Higgs boson plays a significant role in the Standard Model. The particle carries an all-pervading quantum field, known as the Higgs field, which gives other elementary particles their mass.
“After only 10 years of exploring the Higgs boson at the LHC, the ATLAS and CMS experiments have provided a detailed map of its interactions with force carriers and matter particles,” ATLAS spokesman Andreas Hoecker said in a statement. “The Higgs sector is directly linked to very deep questions related to the evolution of the early universe and its stability, as well as to the striking mass pattern of matter particles.”
During the experiments, the physicists studied how the Higgs bosons interact with other particles. Such interactions often lead to the decay of Higgs bosons into other particles, and scientists believe that somewhere in this chain reaction, they could produce dark matter. This elusive substance has never been seen directly but is thought to make up about 80% of all value in space.
“To paint such a portrait of the Higgs boson so early was unthinkable before the LHC started operating,” CMS spokesman Luca Malgeri said in the same statement. “The reasons for this success are varied and include the exceptional performance of the LHC and the ATLAS and CMS detectors and the sophisticated data analysis techniques used.”
The Large Hadron Collider, operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (known by its French acronym CERN) in an underground tunnel near Geneva, Switzerland, was restarted earlier this year for its third attempt to smash particles with even greater force. Strength than before. Around 180 million Higgs boson particles are expected to be produced during the new series of studies, which will further improve the precision of measurements of particle interactions.