Scientists working with the world’s largest atom smasher say the mystery particle they found last summer was a Higgs boson, which is believed to give mass to everything in the universe.
However, while the physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) confirm the particle is a Higgs boson, it doesn’t appear to have all of the properties the theoretical Higgs boson is said to have.
“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 Joe Incandela, a spokesperson for CMS, one of the two independent teams behind last year’s discovery.
The teams wound up analyzing two-and-a-half times more data than was available when they announced the particle’s discovery last year.
This week in Italy, both teams reported the new particle is looking more and more like a Higgs boson.
But the scientists still don’t know if the Higgs boson they found was the one predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, or if it could possibly be the lightest of several bosons which have been predicted in theories that go beyond the Standard Model.
In order to answer that question, the teams say they’ll need more data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, as well as more time to study and analyze the existing data.
“The beautiful new results represent a huge effort by many dedicated people,” said Dave Charlton, a spokesperson for ATLAS, one of the research teams. “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 program in the Higgs sector.”
The two research teams still need to determine the particle’s quantum properties as well as how it interacts with other particles.
The data the teams have been working with is generated by CERN’s collider, located along the border of France and Switzerland. The LHC first went online on September 10, 2008.