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Local

Fermilab scientists in Batavia help CERN link Higgs particle to bottom quarks

Collaborative experiments make breakthrough

This event display from CMS shows a proton-proton collision inside the Large Hadron Collider that has characteristics of a Higgs decaying into two bottom quarks. While this is the most common decay of the Higgs boson, its signature is very difficult to separate from similar looking background events.
This event display from CMS shows a proton-proton collision inside the Large Hadron Collider that has characteristics of a Higgs decaying into two bottom quarks. While this is the most common decay of the Higgs boson, its signature is very difficult to separate from similar looking background events.

BATAVIA – Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory scientists in Batavia have played a role in the recent discovery of the Higgs boson transforming into bottom quarks as it decays. The breakthrough was described in a joint announcement from the Large Hadron Collider experiment collaborations ATLAS and CMS at CERN outside Geneva, Switzerland.

This is predicted to be the most common way for Higgs bosons to decay, yet was a difficult signal to isolate because background processes closely mimic the subtle signal, a news release stated. It called the new discovery a big step forward in the quest to understand how the Higgs boson enables fundamental particles to acquire mass.

After several years of refining techniques and gradually incorporating more data, both experiments finally saw evidence of the Higgs boson decaying to bottom quarks that exceeds the statistical significance typically required to claim a discovery. Both teams found their results were consistent with predictions based on the Standard Model of particle physics.

“The Higgs boson is an integral component of our universe and theorized to give all fundamental particles their mass,” Patty McBride, distinguished scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab and recently elected a deputy spokesperson of the CMS experiment, stated in the release. “But we haven’t yet confirmed exactly how this field interacts — or even if it interacts — with all the particles we know about, or if it interacts with dark matter particles which remain to be detected.”

Fermilab serves as the U.S. hub for the CMS experiment at the LHC and the roughly 1,000 U.S. scientists who work on that experiment, including about 100 Fermilab employees. Fermilab is a Tier 1 computing center for LHC data and hosts a remote operations center to process and analyze the data.

To learn more about the fresh discovery and other news from Fermilab, visit fnal.gov.

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