The team of physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) on the outskirts of Geneva said the organizations latest experiments observe a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV (gigaelectronvolt, a unit of energy equal to billion electron volts), which could be the long-sought-after Higgs particle, commonly referred to as the God Particle because it may be what gives all matter in the universe its size and shape.
We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature, CERN director general Rolf Heuer said in a CERN press release. The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particles properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe.
However, CERN noted the results presented this week are labeled preliminary, and are based on data collected in 2011 and 2012, with the 2012 data still under analysis. While identification of the new particles characteristics will take considerable time and data analysis, CERN researchers said whatever form the Higgs particle takes, collective knowledge of the fundamental structure of matter is about to take a major step forward, a CERN press release said.
We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV. The outstanding performance of the large hadron collider (LHC) and ATLAS and the huge efforts of many people have brought us to this exciting stage, ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti said in prepared remarks. But a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication.
ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) is one of the seven particle detector experiments CERN is conducting at the LHC particle accelerator. Particle detectors must be built to detect particles, their masses, momentum, energies, charges, and nuclear spins. ATLAS, the largest detector ever built, is designed to measure the broadest possible range of signals to detect and measure new particle properties.
"The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV were seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and its the heaviest boson ever found, CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela said in a press statement. The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks."
Researchers said the next step is to determine the precise nature of the particle and its significance, such as determining whether its properties are, as expected, for the long-sought Higgs boson, the final missing ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics. The Standard Model describes the fundamental particles from which human beings, and every visible thing in the universe, are made, and the forces acting between them.
Its hard not to get excited by these results, CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci said in a prepared statement. We stated last year that in 2012 we would either find a new Higgs-like particle or exclude the existence of the Standard Model Higgs. With all the necessary caution, it looks to me that we are at a branching point: the observation of this new particle indicates the path for the future towards a more detailed understanding of what were seeing in the data.