Higgs Duality: Contradictory Results At LHC


Scientists at the LHC, CERN, have released new data on the Higgs boson, indicating that separate measurements of its properties reveal two slightly different masses. Credit: Claudia Marcelloni/ATLAS/CERN

The latest data presented by scientists on Higgs boson shows that separate measurements of its properties are showing two slightly different masses.

The scientists at the LHC, CERN, presented their latest data with this duality problem. Since last July, when evidence indicating that the Higgs boson had been discovered was revealed, scientists have been probing at its properties. The LHC can detect the Higgs in different ways. One channel produces two characteristic photons while another creates four leptons. The two decay paths give scientists a distinct value for the mass of the Higgs.

There’s a slight tension between the two masses. They are compatible, just not super compatible, states Beate Heinemann, of the University of California, Berkely, who works on ATLAS, one of the LHC’s Higgs-searching experiments.

The two photon channel says that the Higgs mass is 126.6 GeV, 126 times the mass of a proton. The four lepton decay indicates that the mass is 123.5 GeV. The Higgs should have one identifiable mass, not two distinct ones. ATLAS scientists noticed the discrepancy in their data previously, but thought it was a problem related to the machinery and its calibration.

One way to explain this is that there are two different Higgs bosons, each with a similar mass. But it’s also probable that the scientists are seeing a statistical mirage.

The four lepton channel has only analyzed 10 Higgs bosons, and the two photon channel about 500 Higgs. Logic dictates that the two photon channel has to be more accurate, but physicists hope to see the same results over and over in millions of particles before they are sure that it’s not just a statistical coincidence.

The LHC’s other Higgs-searching experiment, CMS, has measured the Higgs mass at about 125 GeV, which agrees with ATLAS within the two experiments’ resolution.

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