Physicists hail ‘milestone’ breakthrough for Higgs boson after LHC experiments finally confirm long-sought-after decay products
Higgs boson decays to particles known as bottom quarks nearly 60 % of time
But, these results are difficult to distinguish from ‘background noise’ in the tests
Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider have finally detected this decay
Six years ago, scientists confirmed the existence of an elusive elementary particle known as the Higgs boson, which had long been predicted by the Standard Model.
It’s thought the Higgs boson decays to fundamental particles known as bottom quarks nearly 60 percent of the time – but when it was discovered, it had broken down to a much rarer form, such as the decay to a pair of protons.
Now, researchers at the Large Hadron Collider say they’ve finally observed the Higgs boson’s most common decay, adding further substance to the theoretical predictions on its behaviour.
‘This observation is a milestone in the exploration of the Higgs boson,’ says Karl Jakobs, spokesperson of the ATLAS collaboration.
‘It shows that ATLAS and CMS experiments have achieved deep understanding of their data and a control of backgrounds that surpasses expectations.
‘ATLAS has now observed all couplings of the Higgs boson to the heavy quarks and leptons of the third generation as well as all major production models.’
Spotting the Higgs boson’s most common decay channel poses a challenge due to the difficulty in distinguishing its signal from ‘background noise,’ the researchers explain.
Many other processes in the proton-proton collisions at the LHC can give rise to bottom quarks as well.