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QMUL physicists help discover sought-after decay of Higgs boson

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has at last observed the Higgs boson decaying into a pair of b quarks; physicists in the School of Physics and Astronomy’s Particle Physics Research Group played a key role in the team working at CERN on the ATLAS experiment that made the discovery.

13 September 2018

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Image: ATLAS Experiment © 2018 CERN

The Higgs boson, which cannot be observed directly, was discovered in 2012 when it was seen decaying into photon, Z and W pairs. Since then several of the possible decay paths of the Higgs that are predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics have been observed; however, a key process, in which the Higgs decays into a pair of b quarks, has until now escaped detection. Although this process accounts for almost 60% of all Higgs decays, it is one of the hardest to observe as it is obscured by other processes that have a similar appearance in the detectors. The confirmation that this decay occurs — and occurs at the appropriate rate — provides further evidence that the Higgs field is responsible for giving mass to quarks and leptons.

Physicists here in the School of Physics and Astronomy have been involved with the ATLAS experiment for several years. Researchers in the School played a leading role in developing the software used to analyse the data and contributed to modelling background processes that obscure the signal from the Higgs itself. The School also hosts one of the five largest computer clusters in the UK that contribute to the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid used to crunch through the huge quantities of data produced by the LHC.

Further details of the measurements and the physics they reveal can be found on the ATLAS website here.



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