Why is gravity so much weaker than the other forces of nature? This fundamental discrepancy, known as the “hierarchy problem”, has long been a source of puzzlement. Since the discovery of a scalar particle, the Higgs boson, with a mass of 125 GeV near that of the W and Z bosons mediating the weak force, the hierarchy problem is more acute than ever.
Physics Briefing | 7 May 2018
The ATLAS collaboration has released a set of comprehensive results that illuminate the properties of the Higgs boson with improved precision, using its decay into two photons with LHC collisions recorded at a centre-of-mass energy of 13 TeV.
Physics Briefing | 26 March 2018
What do you do when you produce more data than you can handle? This might seem like a strange question for experimental physicists, but it’s a problem that the ATLAS detector faces every day. While the LHC continues to produce ever-higher rates of proton collisions, the detector can only record data at a fixed rate. Therefore, tough choices must be made about what events to keep. This is not a decision made lightly – what if the thrown-away data contain some long-sought new particles beyond those of the Standard Model.
Physics Briefing | 21 March 2018
Discovering the Higgs boson can be likened to finding a new continent. While a momentous event in itself, the most exciting part remains the exploration of the new land! In a new result presented today at the Rencontres de Moriond, the ATLAS collaboration examined the Higgs boson decaying into two W bosons
Physics Briefing | 12 March 2018
The top quark – the heaviest known fundamental particle – plays a unique role in high-energy physics. Studies of its properties have opened new opportunities for furthering our knowledge of the Standard Model. In a new paper submitted to Physical Review D, the ATLAS collaboration presents a comprehensive measurement of high-momentum top-quark pair production at 13 TeV.
Physics Briefing | 31 January 2018
The production of top quarks in association with vector bosons is a hot topic at the LHC. ATLAS first reported strong evidence for the production of a top quark in association with a Z boson at the EPS 2017 conference. In a paper submitted to the Journal of High-Energy Physics, the ATLAS experiment describes the measurement of top-quark production in association with a W boson in 13 TeV collisions.
Physics Briefing | 18 January 2018
The Standard Model has a number of puzzling features. For instance, why does the Higgs boson have a relatively low mass? Could its mass arise from a hidden symmetry that keeps it from being extremely heavy? And what about dark matter? While the Standard Model has some (almost) invisible particles, like neutrinos, those particles can’t account for all of the dark matter observed by cosmological measurements.
Physics Briefing | 18 December 2017
Supersymmetry (SUSY) is an extension of the Standard Model that predicts the existence of “superpartners” with slightly different properties compared to their Standard Model counterparts. Physicists have been searching for signs of SUSY for over forty years, so far without success, which makes us think that SUSY particles — should they exist — are also heavier than particles in the Standard Model. However, in order for SUSY to help mitigate some problems with the Higgs boson sector of the Standard Model, SUSY particles should not be too heavy. And if some SUSY particles are relatively light, then they should be produced copiously at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). So for SUSY to remain an attractive theory of nature, it must be hiding in plain sight in LHC data.
Physics Briefing | 15 December 2017
The ATLAS collaboration has presented evidence of “ttH production”, a rare process where a pair of top quarks emits a Higgs boson. Observing this process would provide new insight into the Higgs mechanism and allow for new studies of how unknown physics might (or might not) change the behaviour of this fundamental particle.
Physics Briefing | 26 October 2017
Collisions of lead nuclei in the LHC form the hot, dense medium known as the quark-gluon plasma (QGP). Experimentally, the QGP is characterized by the collective flow of emerging quarks and gluons. They fragment into highly collimated “jets” of particles that in turn lose energy through a phenomenon known as “jet quenching”. Studying this effect can help improve our understanding of quantum chromodynamics, the theory of the strong nuclear interaction that governs the behaviour of the QGP.
Physics Briefing | 23 October 2017
Ordinary matter is made of just three kinds of elementary particles: up and down quarks, which form the atomic nucleus, and electrons, which surround the nucleus. But the rest of nature is not so straightforward: heavier forms of quarks and leptons are produced regularly at particle accelerators.
Physics Briefing | 3 October 2017
In order to produce rare physics phenomena, such as the Higgs boson or possible signs of new physics, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) collides tens of millions of protons per second. Under such conditions, around 20 simultaneous proton-proton interactions occur in each beam crossing. Thus, additional collisions called “pile-up” are recorded along with the collision of interest. Together, they form a single event for analysis.
Physics Briefing | 22 September 2017
When ultra-relativistic heavy ions collide, a new state of hot and dense matter – the quark–gluon plasma (QGP) – is created. One of the key features for this state is the observation of long-range azimuthal angle correlations between particles emitted over a wide range of pseudorapidity. This phenomenon is often referred to as the “ridge”.
Physics Briefing | 28 August 2017
Since discovering a Higgs boson in 2012, the ATLAS and CMS collaborations have been trying to understand whether this new particle is the Higgs boson as predicted by the Standard Model, or a Higgs boson from a more exotic model containing new, as yet undiscovered, particles. The answer lies in the properties of the Higgs boson.
Physics Briefing | 11 August 2017
For many physicists, discovering “new physics” means bringing to light a new particle. Another path to discovery lies in carefully measuring the properties of known particles and the interactions between them. The ATLAS experiment has now released new results on the top quark's interaction with the charged intermediate vector boson.
Physics Briefing | 3 August 2017
As the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) smashes together protons at a centre-of-mass energy of 13 TeV, it creates a rich assortment of particles that are identified through the signature of their interactions with the ATLAS detector. But what if there are particles being produced that travel through ATLAS without interacting? These “invisible particles” may provide the answers to some of the greatest mysteries in physics.
Physics Briefing | 17 July 2017
Although the discovery of the Higgs boson by the ATLAS and CMS Collaborations in 2012 completed the Standard Model, many mysteries remain unexplained. For instance, why is the mass of the Higgs boson so much lighter than one would expect and why is gravity so weak?
Physics Briefing | 8 July 2017
Observing rare productions of heavy elementary particles can provide fresh insight into the Standard Model of particle physics. In a new result, the ATLAS Experiment presents strong evidence for the production of a single top-quark in association with a Z boson.
Physics Briefing | 7 July 2017
Since the discovery of the elusive Higgs boson in 2012, researchers have been looking beyond the Standard Model to answer many outstanding questions. An attractive extension to the Standard Model is Supersymmetry (SUSY), which introduces a plethora of new particles, some of which may be candidates for Dark Matter.
The ATLAS collaboration has released a new preliminary measurement of the Higgs boson mass using 2015 and 2016 LHC data. The number of recorded Higgs boson events has more than tripled since the first measurement of the Higgs boson was released, using 2011/2012 data. An improved precision in the measurement of the Higgs boson mass has been made possible by both the increased collision energy of 13 TeV and improved collision rate.
Since resuming operation for Run 2, the LHC has been producing about 20,000 Higgs bosons per day in its 13 TeV proton–proton collisions. At the end of 2015, the data collected by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations were already enough to re-observe the Higgs boson at the new collision energy. Now, having recorded more than 36,000 trillion collisions between 2015 and 2016, ATLAS can perform ever more precise measurements of the properties of the Higgs boson
Cosmological and astrophysical observations based on gravitational interactions indicate that the matter described by the Standard Model of particle physics constitutes only a small fraction of the entire known Universe. These observations infer the existence of Dark Matter, which, if of particle nature, would have to be beyond the Standard Model.
Until now, the Higgs boson had been observed decaying to photons, tau leptons, and W and Z bosons. However, these impressive achievements represent only 30% of the Higgs boson decays! The Higgs boson’s favoured decay to a pair of b-quarks, which was predicted to happen around 58% of the time and thus drives the short lifetime of the Higgs boson, had so far remained elusive. Observing this decay would fill in one of the big missing pieces of our knowledge of the Higgs sector. It would confirm that the Higgs mechanism is responsible for the masses of quarks and might also provide hints of new physics beyond our current theories. All in all, it is a vital missing piece of the Higgs boson puzzle!