Archive for December, 2011


14 December, 2011: Discovery of the Brout-Englert-Higgs boson?

In High Energy Physics on December 16, 2011 by physthjc

“In a seminar held at CERN1 today, the ATLAS2 and CMS3experiments presented the status of their searches for the Standard Model Higgs boson. Their results are based on the analysis of considerably more data than those presented at the summer conferences, sufficient to make significant progress in the search for the Higgs boson, but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the elusive Higgs. The main conclusion is that the Standard Model Higgs boson, if it exists, is most likely to have a mass constrained to the range 116-130 GeV by the ATLAS experiment, and 115-127 GeV by CMS. Tantalising hints have been seen by both experiments in this mass region, but these are not yet strong enough to claim a discovery.

Higgs bosons, if they exist, are very short lived and can decay in many different ways. Discovery relies on observing the particles they decay into rather than the Higgs itself. Both ATLAS and CMS have analysed several decay channels, and the experiments see small excesses in the low mass region that has not yet been excluded.

Taken individually, none of these excesses is any more statistically significant than rolling a die and coming up with two sixes in a row. What is interesting is that there are multiple independent measurements pointing to the region of 124 to 126 GeV. It’s far too early to say whether ATLAS and CMS have discovered the Higgs boson, but these updated results are generating a lot of interest in the particle physics community.

“We have restricted the most likely mass region for the Higgs boson to 116-130 GeV, and over the last few weeks we have started to see an intriguing excess of events in the mass range around 125 GeV,” explained ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti.“This excess may be due to a fluctuation, but it could also be something more interesting. We cannot conclude anything at this stage. We need more study and more data. Given the outstanding performance of the LHC this year, we will not need to wait long for enough data and can look forward to resolving this puzzle in 2012.”

“We cannot exclude the presence of the Standard Model Higgs between 115 and 127 GeV because of a modest excess of events in this mass region that appears, quite consistently, in five independent channels,” explained CMS experiment Spokesperson, Guido Tonelli. “The excess is most compatible with a Standard Model Higgs in the vicinity of 124 GeV and below but the statistical significance is not large enough to say anything conclusive. As of today what we see is consistent either with a background fluctuation or with the presence of the boson. Refined analyses and additional data delivered in 2012 by this magnificent machine will definitely give an answer.”

Over the coming months, both experiments will be further refining their analyses in time for the winter particle physics conferences in March. However, a definitive statement on the existence or non-existence of the Higgs will require more data, and is not likely until later in 2012.

The Standard Model is the theory that physicists use to describe the behaviour of fundamental particles and the forces that act between them. It describes the ordinary matter from which we, and everything visible in the Universe, are made extremely well. Nevertheless, the Standard Model does not describe the 96% of the Universe that is invisible. One of the main goals of the LHC research programme is to go beyond the Standard Model, and the Higgs boson could be the key.

A Standard Model Higgs boson would confirm a theory first put forward in the 1960s, but there are other possible forms the Higgs boson could take, linked to theories that go beyond the Standard Model. A Standard Model Higgs could still point the way to new physics, through subtleties in its behaviour that would only emerge after studying a large number of Higgs particle decays. A non-Standard Model Higgs, currently beyond the reach of the LHC experiments with data so far recorded, would immediately open the door to new physics, whereas the absence of a Standard Model Higgs would point strongly to new physics at the LHC’s full design energy, set to be achieved after 2014. Whether ATLAS and CMS show over the coming months that the Standard Model Higgs boson exists or not, the LHC programme is opening the way to new physics.” (Press Release)


7 December, 2011

In High Energy Physics on December 16, 2011 by physthjc

1) Presentation of  Fabio’s work

  • Thermodynamics of black holes in Massive gravity
    abstract:  A comprehensive treatment of black hole thermodynamics in massive gravity is derived. Making use of explicit black hole solutions, we devise black hole merger processes in which i) total entropy of the system decreases ii) the zero-temperature extremal black hole is created. Thus, both second and third laws of thermodynamics are violated. In both cases, the violation can be traced back to the presence of negative-mass black holes, which, in turn, is related to the violation of the null energy condition. The violation of the third law of thermodynamics implies, in particular, that a naked singularity may be created as a result of the evolution of a singularity-free state. This may signal a problem in the model, unless the creation of the negative-mass black holes from positive-mass states can be forbidden dynamically or the naked singularity may somehow be resolved in a full quantum theory.

    We also derive an improved action for that particular model and construct the Euclidean path integral. An essentially unique boundary counterterm renders the improved action finite on-shell, and its variational properties guarantee that the path integral has a well-defined semi-classical limit. We give a detailed discussion of the canonical  ensemble described by the Euclidean partition function, and examine various issues related to stability. (work in progress)

2) Higgs-dark matter

  • Vector Higgs-portal dark matter and  the invisible Higgs
    abstract:  The Higgs sector of the Standard Model offers a unique probe of the hidden sector. In this work, we explore the possibility of renormalizable Higgs couplings to the hidden sector vector fields which can constitute dark matter (DM). Abelian gauge sectors with minimal field content, necessary to render the gauge fields massive, have a natural Z_2 parity. This symmetry ensures stability of the vector fields making them viable dark matter candidates, while evading the usual electroweak constraints. We illustrate this idea with the Stueckelberg and Higgs mechanisms. Vector DM is consistent with the WMAP, XENON100, and LHC constraints, while it can affect significantly the invisible Higgs decay. Due to the enhanced branching ratio for the Higgs decay into the longitudinal components of the vector field, the vector Higgs portal provides an efficient way to hide the Higgs at the LHC. This could be the reason why the latest combined ATLAS/CMS data did not bring evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson.


30 November, 2011

In High Energy Physics on December 7, 2011 by physthjc

1) Presentation of  Mikaël’s work

  • Low-energy tests of the origin of neutrino masses.
    abstract:  It’s not possible to distinguish the three basic Seesaw mechanisms just from the knowledge of the neutrino mass matrix. However, at the second order in 1/M, where M is the scale of the new physic, those mechanisms generate rare lepton flavor violation process (like µ->e gamma, µ->eee or µ N->e N, the conversion of a muon into a electron in nucleus), that could in principle distinguish the origin of the neutrino mass. But generally, their branching ratio are very suppressed… except in some models, like in Minimal Flavor Violation models. Motivated by the multiple future experiments, We aim to study low-energy tests of such models, i.e. constrained Seesaw Type-1. First of all, we need to make the computation of the branching ratio of the µ-e conversion process.

2) Voids as alternatives to dark energy

  • Voids as alternative to dark energy and the propagation of gamma rays through the Universe
    abstract:  We test the opacity of a void Universe to TeV energy gamma rays having obtained the extra-galactic background light in that Universe using a simple model and the observed constraints on the star formation rate history. We find that the void Universe has significantly more opacity than a Lambda-CDM Universe, putting it at odds with observations of BL-Lac objects. We argue that while this method of distinguishing between the two cosmologies contains uncertainties, it circumvents any debates over fine-tuning.