By Hayley Dixon
CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, announced today that after extensive testing it was “looking more and more” like the particle which they discovered last year was the Higgs boson.
Finding the Higgs plugs a gaping hole in the Standard Model of physics, the theory that describes all the particles, forces and interactions that make up the universe.
Today the collaborating scientists from ATLAS and CMS announced their results at the Moriond Conference, in La Thuile, Italy, further confirming the “magnificent” discovery.
“The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is.” said CMS spokesperson Joe Incandela.
It remains an “open question” whether this is the Higgs boson of the Standard Model of particle physics, or a more exotic particle - possibly the lightest of several bosons predicted by other theories.
Although CERN says that discovering what type of Higgs it is could take some years, it is believed to be the Standard Model particle predicted by Edinburgh professor Peter Higgs 50 years ago.
"The beautiful new results represent a huge effort by many dedicated people. They point to the new particle having the spin-parity of a Higgs boson as in the Standard Model. We are now well started on the measurement programme in the Higgs sector," said ATLAS spokesperson Dave Charlton.
Whether or not it is a Higgs boson is demonstrated by how it interacts with other particles, and its quantum properties.
A Higgs boson should have no spin, and in the Standard Model its parity – a measure of how its mirror image behaves – should be positive.
The latest set of experiments tested both the spin and parity, and showed that there was no spin and positive parity.
This, coupled with the measured interactions with other particles, strongly indicates that it is a Higgs boson, CERN believe.
But refusing to announce that they are 100 per cent sure they have found the missing link the scientists say that they need to return to the Large Hadron Collider to carry out further tests.
They will now measure precisely the rate at which the boson decays into other particles and compare the results to the predictions.
They announced last July that they had discovered a new particle matching the description of the Higgs boson
However, despite being 99 per cent certain that it was the Higgs boson, the CERN scientists said that further research was needed to characterise it properly.
But extensive testing has now proved that the Higgs-like particle also behaves like the elusive God particle, which is linked to the mechanism that gives mass to elementary particles.
The particle has proved impossible to pin down since the 1960s.
The CERN scientists used the LHC to smash together protons at almost the speed of light and scoured the debris for traces of particles that sprang into existence for just a fraction of a second before disintegrating.
The particle they discovered in the process has now undergone extensive testing, and analysed two and a half times more data, leading to them confirming their beliefs.