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CERN scientists find link between Higgs boson, two top quarks

"Deeply understanding how the Higgs interacts with known particles could help lead us to physics beyond the Standard Model," said physicist Joe Lykken.

By Brooks Hays
CERN scientists find link between Higgs boson, two top quarks
Researchers used the Large Hadron Collider to produce Higgs boson particles and watch them decay into top quarks, a first. Photo by Fermilab/CERN/LHC

June 4 (UPI) -- Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider have offered fresh insights into the relationship between Higgs boson and top quarks.

Because of the Higgs boson's reputation as a giver of mass and the top quark's status as physics' heaviest particle, scientists assumed the two were linked. But their relationship has proven difficult to isolate and study.

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"Higgs boson production is rare -- but Higgs production with top quarks is rarest of them all, amounting to only about 1 percent of the Higgs boson events produced at the LHC," Chris Neu, a physicist at the University of Virginia, said in a news release.

In the latest experiments, scientists measured a statistically significant abundance of Higgs boson production in relation with two top quarks.

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Physicists surveyed the LHC data for all the known signatures left by Higgs boson production. They also found the signatures of top quarks and compared the two datasets.

"A top quark decays almost exclusively into a bottom quark and a W boson," Neu said. "The Higgs boson, on the other hand, has a rich spectrum of decay modes, including decays to pairs of bottom quarks, W bosons, tau leptons, photons and several others. This leads to a wide variety of signatures in events with two top quarks and a Higgs boson. We pursued each of these and combined the results to produce our final analysis."

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Some physicists believe understanding the relationship between Higgs boson and top quarks could help them establish a new model of physics.

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"Pinning down this coupling will tell us a lot about the behavior of the Higgs and how it might also interact with other particles we haven't discovered, like dark matter," said Joe Lykken, director of the Fermilab where the experiments took place. "Deeply understanding how the Higgs interacts with known particles could help lead us to physics beyond the Standard Model."

Researchers published their evidence of the Higgs boson-top quark relationship on Monday in the journal Physical Review Letters.

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