New discovery could be best hint yet of the elusive Higgs boson

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The Higgs boson is the missing particle that would complete the standard model of particle physics, but so far we've found little to even suggest it actually exists. But a new finding might just have come from a decaying Higgs.

The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector is one of several individual detectors that comprise the Large Hadron Collider. Researchers there just announced its first ever detection of a pair of Z bosons. Some high energy interaction is responsible for causing this so-called ZZ decay. If the Higgs boson is a massive particle, then it most likely would decay into a pair of Z bosons, as was observed here.

So did the CMS detector spot the aftermath of a decaying Higgs boson? Right now, we can't know one way or the other, as a single pair of particles can't tell us very much. Researchers hope to detect many more of these ZZ decays over the next run of the CMS detector in early 2011. According to CMS physicist Tomasso Dorigo, another 100 or so pairs should be enough to figure out just what's causing these decays.


It's possible the pairs are created by relatively ordinary proton-proton collisions. Indeed, that's probably where the smart money would have to be, if only because such collisions are common and the Higgs has never been found. But there's a very real chance these decays could be caused by the Higgs boson, and it's rare that we've even gotten this far in the hunt for this elusive particle. [Nature]

Previously on io9:

Why it matters that we're close to discovering the Higgs Boson particle
The Ultimate Field Guide to Subatomic Particles
How the hunt for the Higgs boson began