The Tevatron scientists announced their findings Monday, just two days before the release of highly anticipated results from Europe's Large Hadron Collider.
"Our data strongly point toward the existence of the Higgs boson, but it will take results from the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe to establish a discovery," said Rob Roser of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.
The Large Hadron Collider results will be announced Wednesday at a scientific seminar at the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.
"It is a real cliffhanger," said DZero representative Gregorio Bernardi, physicist at the Laboratory of Nuclear and High Energy Physics. "We know exactly what signal we are looking for in our data, and we see strong indications of the production and decay of Higgs bosons in a crucial decay mode with a pair of bottom quarks, which is difficult to observe at the LHC. We are very excited about it."
The Higgs particle is named after Scottish physicist Peter Higgs, who helped develop the theoretical model that explains why some particles have mass and others don't, a major step toward understanding the origin of mass, Fermilab said. The model predicts the existence of a new particle, which has eluded experimental detection.
Only high-energy particle colliders such as the Tevatron at Fermilab, which was shut down in September 2011, and the Large Hadron Collider, which produced its first collisions in November 2009, have the chance to produce the Higgs particle.
The Tevatron results indicate that the Higgs particle, if it exists, has a mass between 115 and 135 GeV/c2, or about 130 times the mass of the proton.
"During its life, the Tevatron must have produced thousands of Higgs particles, if they actually exist, and it's up to us to try to find them in the data we have collected," said Luciano Ristori, a physicist at Fermilab and the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare. "We have developed sophisticated simulation and analysis programs to identify Higgs-like patterns. Still, it is easier to look for a friend's face in a sports stadium filled with 100,000 people than to search for a Higgs-like event among trillions of collisions."
The final Tevatron results corroborate the Higgs search results that scientists from the Tevatron and the LHC presented at physics conferences in March 2012, Fermilab said.