The bullet cluster. Image Credit: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss.

God Particle Transformation Sparks Search for Unknown Particles

In a remarkable breakthrough, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments have detected the first compelling indications of a rare decay of the elusive Higgs boson. This momentous discovery adds a new chapter to the ongoing pursuit of unraveling the mysteries surrounding the fundamental building blocks of our universe.


In a pioneering quest, the transformation of the elusive “God Particle,” or Higgs boson, has been meticulously examined, offering the first evidence of a process potentially revealing hitherto unknown particles.

Understanding the Transformative Journey of the Higgs Boson

The Higgs boson’s discovery at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2012 sparked a revolution in particle physics. Following this breakthrough, the ATLAS and CMS collaborations have studied the distinctive attributes of this particle and probed its various production methods and decays.

Spotting an Unusual Decay

ATLAS and CMS, reporting from this week’s Large Hadron Collider Physics (LHCP) conference, have shed light on a rare decay process where the Higgs boson breaks down into a Z boson, an electrically neutral element of the weak force, and a photon, the electromagnetic force’s bearer. This decay could point towards particles outside the realm of the Standard Model of particle physics.

An Intricate Decay Loop Could Mean New Particles

The Higgs boson’s decay into a Z boson and a photon mirrors its decay into two photons. The unique aspect here is the non-direct nature of these decays. They proceed through an intermediate “loop” of temporary “virtual” particles. These transient particles might be previously undetected ones that interact with the Higgs boson.


The God Particle: Deciphering the Higgs Boson and Beyond

According to the Standard Model, a Higgs boson of around 125 billion electronvolts will decay into a Z boson and a photon in approximately 0.15% of cases. However, alternative theories predict varying decay rates. Hence, monitoring these decay rates aids in understanding both the Higgs boson and physics beyond the Standard Model.

The Hunt for Rare Decays with Advanced Techniques

Earlier, ATLAS and CMS used LHC data from proton-proton collisions for extensive searches for the rare decay. Recognizing the signal for this decay as a narrow peak amid a smooth background of events, they employed advanced machine learning techniques and categorized events based on production process characteristics.

Joining Forces for Precision

In a groundbreaking collaboration, ATLAS and CMS have combined their data sets collected during the LHC’s second run from 2015 to 2018. This unison has significantly amplified the statistical precision and scope of their research.

Spotting the First Evidence of a Rare Decay

This concerted effort has resulted in the first evidence of the Higgs boson decay into a Z boson and a photon. Though falling short of the conventional 5 standard deviations needed to confirm an observation, this result shows promise in the pursuit of uncovering more about the Higgs boson’s mysteries.


The Future of Particle Physics

“Every particle has a unique relationship with the Higgs boson, which makes the search for rare Higgs decays crucial,” says ATLAS physics coordinator Pamela Ferrari. The study’s success reflects the potential for the ongoing and future runs of the LHC to fine-tune this test and explore even rarer Higgs decays.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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