Briefings

Looking forward: ATLAS measures proton scattering when light turns into matter

Today, at the International Conference for High Energy Physics (ICHEP 2020), the ATLAS Collaboration announced first results using the ATLAS Forward Proton (AFP) spectrometer. With this instrument, physicists directly observed and measured the long sought-after prediction of proton scattering when particles of light turn into matter.

Physics Briefing | 30th July 2020

ATLAS probes interactions between heavyweights of the Standard Model

In the contest for the heaviest known elementary particle, the top quark and Z boson rank first and third, respectively. When a proton–proton collision produces a top-quark pair together with a Z boson – a process known as ttZ production – their total mass can reach an impressive 440 GeV! The discovery of this highly energetic process thus required the record collision energy and rate of the LHC; no previous collider could come close.

Physics Briefing | 30th July 2020

Jetting into the dark side: a precision search for dark matter

The nature of dark matter remains one of the great unsolved puzzles of fundamental physics. Many theoretical scenarios postulate that dark matter particles could be produced in the intense high-energy proton–proton collisions of the LHC. While the dark matter would escape the ATLAS detector unseen, it could occasionally be accompanied by a visible jet of particles radiated from the interaction point. Today, at the International Conference in High-Energy Physics (ICHEP 2020), ATLAS presented a new search for novel phenomena in collision events with jets and high missing transverse momentum (MET).

Physics Briefing | 27th July 2020

ATLAS one step closer in the search for rare Higgs boson decays to muons

The ATLAS Collaboration has released a new paper on the search for the Higgs-boson decay to a pair of muons. The new study uses the entire dataset collected by the ATLAS experiment during Run 2 of the LHC (2015–2018) to give a first hint of this elusive process.

Physics Briefing | 23rd July 2020

Keeping the ATLAS Inner Detector in perfect alignment

How do you track a particle’s trajectory when your detector keeps moving? What if you find slight biases in your detector’s measurements? These were the challenges faced by the ATLAS Inner Detector during Run 2 of the LHC (2015–2018). Located at the heart of the experiment, the Inner Detector provides efficient and precise measurements of charged-particle tracks. In a new paper released today, physicists describe the complex solutions they developed to align the Inner Detector, ensuring the continued accuracy of the experiment.

Experiment Briefing | 16th July 2020

New ATLAS result addresses long-standing tension in the Standard Model

This week, at the LHCP 2020 conference, the ATLAS Collaboration presented a precise measurement of lepton flavour universality using a brand-new technique. Physicists examined collision events where pairs of top quarks decay to pairs of W bosons, and subsequently into leptons. They then measured the relative probability that this lepton is a muon or a tau-lepton – a ratio known as R(τ/μ). According to the Standard Model, R(τ/μ) should be unity – but there has been long-standing tension with this prediction, ever since it was measured at the Large Electron-Positron (LEP) collider in the 1990s.

Physics Briefing | 28th May 2020

Fantastic decays and where to find them

Supersymmetry offers an elegant solution to the limitations of the Standard Model, extending it to give each elementary particle a “superpartner” with different spin properties. Yet SUSY also contains interactions that would cause phenomena not observed in nature, such as the decay of protons. This has traditionally been avoided by requiring the conservation of a property known as “R-parity” (or “matter-parity”), which incorporates the baryon number, lepton number and spin. ATLAS physicists are also considering SUSY models with R-parity violation (or “RPV”), which would allow the lightest SUSY particle to be observed decaying directly into Standard Model particles.

Physics Briefing | 27th May 2020

ATLAS finds evidence of spectacular four-top quark production

In a new result released today, the ATLAS Collaboration announced strong evidence of the production of four top quarks. This rare Standard Model process is expected to occur only once for every 70 thousand pairs of top quarks created at the LHC and has proven extremely difficult to measure.

Physics Briefing | 26th May 2020

ATLAS measures light scattering on light and constrains axion-like particles

Light-by-light scattering is a very rare phenomenon in which two photons – particles of light – interact, producing another pair of photons. Direct observation of this process at high energy had proven elusive for decades, until it was first seen by the ATLAS Collaboration in 2016 and established in 2019. In a new measurement, ATLAS physicists are using light-by-light scattering to search for a hyped phenomenon beyond the Standard Model of particle physics: axion-like particles.

Physics Briefing | 25th May 2020

Machine learning qualitatively changes the search for new particles

The ATLAS Collaboration is exploring novel ways to search for new phenomena. Alongside an extensive research programme often inspired by specific theoretical models – ranging from quantum black holes to supersymmetry – physicists are applying new model-independent methods to broaden their searches. ATLAS has just released the first model-independent search for new particles using a novel technique called “weak supervision”.

Physics Briefing | 13th May 2020

Probing Dark Matter with the Higgs boson

Could the Higgs boson decay into dark matter? As dark matter does not interact directly with the ATLAS detector, physicists look for signs of “invisible particles”, inferred through momentum conservation of the proton–proton collision products. The ATLAS Collaboration searched the full LHC Run 2 dataset, setting the strongest limits on the Higgs boson decaying to invisible dark-matter particles to date.

Physics Briefing | 21st April 2020

ATLAS searches for rare Higgs boson decays into a photon and a Z boson

The ATLAS Collaboration has just released a new result searching for the Higgs-boson decay to a Z boson and a photon. This result uses the full LHC Run 2 dataset, analysing almost four times as many Higgs-boson events as the previous ATLAS result.

Physics Briefing | 21st April 2020

Novel probes of the strong force: precision jet substructure and the Lund jet plane

A hallmark of the strong force at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the dramatic production of collimated jets of particles when quarks and gluons scatter at high energies. Particle physicists have studied jets for decades to learn about the structure of quantum chromodynamics – or QCD, the theory of the strong interaction – across a wide range of energy scales. Recent theoretical and experimental advancements in their study is now allowing ATLAS physicists to test the strong force in new ways.

Physics Briefing | 19th April 2020

Searching for new sources of matter–antimatter symmetry breaking in Higgs boson interaction with top quarks

When a particle is transformed into its antiparticle and its spatial coordinates inverted, the laws of physics are required to stay the same – or so we thought. This symmetry – known as “CP symmetry” (Charge conjugation and Parity symmetry) – was considered to be exact until 1964, when a study of the kaon particle system led to the discovery of “CP violation”. In a new result presented today, the ATLAS Collaboration performed a direct test of the CP properties of the interaction between the Higgs boson and top quarks. The result is based on an analysis of the full LHC Run-2 dataset, looking at collision events where the Higgs boson is produced in association with one or two top quarks, and in turn decays into two photons.

Physics Briefing | 7th April 2020

Measuring the beauty of the Higgs boson

Two years ago, the Higgs boson was observed decaying to a pair of beauty-quarks (H→bb), moving its study from the “discovery era” to the “measurement era”. In new results presented today, the ATLAS Collaboration studied the full LHC Run 2 dataset to give an updated measurement of H→bb, where the Higgs boson is produced in association with a vector boson (W or Z).

Physics Briefing | 7th April 2020

25 years on: a single top quark partners with the Z boson

A quarter-century after its discovery, physicists at the ATLAS Experiment are gaining new insight into the heaviest-known particle: the top quark. The huge amount of data collected during Run 2 of the LHC (2015-2018) has allowed physicists to study rare production processes of the top quark in great detail, including its production in association with other heavy elementary particles.

Physics Briefing | 21st February 2020

Searching for natural supersymmetry using novel techniques

In new results presented today at CERN, the ATLAS Experiment’s search for supersymmetry (SUSY) reached new levels of sensitivity. The results examine a popular SUSY extension studied at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC): the “Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model” (MSSM), which includes the minimum required number of new particles and interactions to make predictions at the LHC energies.

Physics Briefing | 18th February 2020

ATLAS probes the quark-gluon plasma in a new study of photo-produced muon pairs

The electromagnetic fields of the Lorentz-contracted lead nuclei in heavy-ion collisions at the LHC act as intense sources of high-energy photons, or particles of light. This environment allows physicists to study photon-induced scattering processes, that can not be studied elsewhere. A key process examined by ATLAS physicists involves the annihilation of photons into pairs of oppositely charged muons. The ATLAS Collaboration recently released a new, comprehensive measurement of this process.

Physics Briefing | 19th November 2019

Ensuring high-quality data at ATLAS

During Run 2, ATLAS achieved an exceptionally high data-quality efficiency for a hadron collider, with over 95% of the 13 TeV proton-proton collision data certified for physics analysis. In a new paper released today, the ATLAS data quality team summarises how this excellent result was achieved.

Physics Briefing | 13th November 2019

Searching for Higgs boson interactions with the lightest charged lepton

Does the Higgs boson follow all of the rules set by the Standard Model? Since discovering the particle in 2012, the ATLAS and CMS Collaborations have been hard at work studying the behaviour of the Higgs boson. Any unexpected observations could be a sign of new physics beyond the Standard Model.

Physics Briefing | 6th August 2019

ATLAS delivers new direct measurement of the top-quark decay width with improved precision

As the heaviest known particle, the top quark plays a key role in studies of fundamental interactions. Due to its short lifetime, the top quark decays before it can turn into a hadron. Thus, its properties are preserved and transferred to its decay products, which can in turn be measured in high-energy physics experiments. Such studies provide an excellent testing ground for the Standard Model and may provide clues for new physics.

Physics Briefing | 6th August 2019

ATLAS releases new search for strong supersymmetry

New particles sensitive to the strong interaction might be produced in abundance in the proton-proton collisions generated by the LHC – provided that they aren’t too heavy. These particles could be the partners of gluons and quarks predicted by supersymmetry (SUSY), a proposed extension of the Standard Model of particle physics that would expand its predictive power to include much higher energies. In the simplest scenarios, these “gluinos” and “squarks” would be produced in pairs, and decay directly into quarks and a new stable neutral particle (the “neutralino”), which would not interact with the ATLAS detector. The neutralino could be the main constituent of dark matter.

Physics Briefing | 5th August 2019

Zooming in on top-quark production

As the heaviest known elementary particle, the top quark has a special place in LHC physics. Top quark-antiquark pairs are copiously produced in collisions recorded by the ATLAS detector, providing a rich testing ground for theoretical models of particle collisions at the highest accessible energies. Any deviations between measurements and predictions could point to shortcomings in the theory – or first hints of something completely new.

Physics Briefing | 5th August 2019

New milestone reached in the study of electroweak symmetry breaking

In the Standard Model of particle physics, elementary particles acquire their masses by interacting with the Higgs field. This process is governed by a delicate mechanism: electroweak symmetry breaking (EWSB). Although EWSB was first proposed in 1964, it remains among the least understood phenomena of the Standard Model as a large dataset of high-energy particle collisions is required to probe it.

Physics Briefing | 15th July 2019

Exploring the Higgs boson “discovery channels"

This week, at the European Physical Society Conference on High-Energy Physics (EPS-HEP) in Ghent, Belgium, the ATLAS Collaboration at CERN released new measurements of Higgs boson properties using the full LHC Run 2 dataset. Critically, the new results examine two of the Higgs boson decays that led to the particle’s discovery in 2012: H→ZZ*→4ℓ, where the Higgs boson decays into two Z bosons, in turn decaying into four leptons (electrons or muons); and H → γγ, where the Higgs boson decays directly into two photons.

Physics Briefing | 12th July 2019