CERN Scientists Discover Rare Higgs Boson Process

The findings bring scientists one step closer to understanding the Higgs boson.
Fabienne Lang
CMS detectorCERN

Particle physicists at CERN will be celebrating this week as they announced new results from their ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, which brings us one step closer to understanding the basic forces that shape our universe. 

This is the first time that the Higgs boson has been observed to act in such a way.

The news was shared this week at the 40th ICHEP conference held virtually from Prague.


Decaying information

One of the best methods to observe the Higgs boson, the particle that's believed to give mass to other elementary particles, is by watching it die. 

And as CERN scientists oberseved the Higgs boson decaying they noticed it was breaking down into an unexpected combination of particles — for the first time ever. 

CERN Scientists Discover Rare Higgs Boson Process
ATLAS muon spectrometer, Source: CERN

Usually, the Higgs boson deteriorates into comparatively-heavy particles, whereas this time it decayed into muons, which are much lighter second-generation particles that interact less with the Higgs boson's field.

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"[Our CERN team] is proud to have achieved this sensitivity to the decay of Higgs bosons to muons, and to show the first experimental evidence for this process," CERN spokesperson Roberto Carlin said in a statement.

This discovery further reinforces the Standard Model of physics, as Carlin also stated "The Higgs boson seems to interact also with second-generation particles in agreement with the prediction of the Standard Model, a result that will be further refined with the data we expect to collect in the next run."

CERN Scientists Discover Rare Higgs Boson Process
CERN's ATLAS detector, Source: CERN