A Hint of Higgs

Physicists’ experiment at Large Hadron Collider finds the first traces of elusive particle

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UT Arlington’s high energy physics group is helping illuminate one of the biggest mysteries of the universe.

The scientists are part of a larger U.S. team working on the ATLAS particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s biggest and most powerful particle accelerator. Recently, the ATLAS team and another group of researchers found the first “tantalizing hints” of the Higgs boson particle, the only particle predicted by the Standard Model of Physics that has not been seen in experiments. Physicists believe that interaction with the Higgs boson gives particles in the universe their mass.

After 15 years of contributions to ATLAS by our group here at UT Arlington, it is exciting to be at the threshold of an astonishing scientific breakthrough,” says physics Professor Kaushik De, director of the University’s Center of Excellence in High Energy Physics. Additional data from the LHC, which the researchers expect to gather this year, will show whether these hints are the Higgs or just an accidental fluctuation in data.

To enhance their search for the elusive particle, the UT Arlington team is designing a time-of-flight detector that could significantly boost the collider’s measurement capabilities. Led by Professor Andrew Brandt, the group is constructing what would be the fastest detector ever deployed at a particle accelerator, with 10 picosecond, or trillionths of a second, time resolution. The time-of-flight component would give scientists a way to locate the vertex, or collision point, for protons, which could help determine the characteristics of the Higgs boson particle.

Measuring the events where both protons stay intact, yet you still get a massive system produced by a collision in the central ATLAS detector, would be a new capability for ATLAS and potentially a very exciting part of the discovery physics program,” Dr. Brandt says.

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