CERN’s Large Hadron Collider physicists possibly discover new particle

LHC Run 2 is result of twin beams of protons with 6.5 trillion electron volts of energy fired at each other
By @vitthernandez on
ATLAS Collision
A 13 TeV collision recorded by ATLAS. The yellow and green bars indicate the presence of particle jets, which leave behind lots of energy in the calorimeters. ATLAS/CERN

Observations by two different teams made by scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) suggest the possibility that the researchers could have discovered a new particle. However, because the values of their findings are below 5 sigma, it could also possibly be a heavier version of the Higgs boon or a graviton.

The two teams of physicists met on Tuesday to share their observations from LHC Run 2, reports Gizmondo. The results of the experiment by the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) team yielded a statistical significance of 2.6 sigma, while it was 3.6 sigma for the A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS (ATLAS) team. In a press release, CERN explains that the results “do not show any significant excesses that could indicate the presence of particles predicted by alternative models such as supersymmetry.”

The sigma values measures the chances that the result of the experiments represent the presence of a hypothesised particle. A sigma value of 5 means there is a 1-in-3.5 million chance that the result is a fluke instead of a real particle. A sigma 3 value, while considered an interesting result, takes into account that it could be just a coincidence, which seems to be the case for the two experiments. Given the results, New York University physicist Kyle Cranmer from the ATLAS team, says their data has 1-in-93 chance of being a fluke.

However, when the two teams took into account the “look elsewhere effect,” the sigma values further went down to 1.2 and 1.9, respectively, which increased the possibility it were just a spurious result. While all discoveries begin with a low sigma value, for the Higgs boson – also called the God particle – the value continued to go up.

One possibility is that the physicists discovered a graviton, a potential quantum carrier of gravity, according to physicists, reports the New York Times.

With the LHC having started to collide lean ions at the highest energies ever recorded since November after the facility was closed for two years, upgraded and restarted, scientists from the two teams are hopeful that in 2016, their dataset would yield higher sigma values. The two teams had been firing twin beams of protons with 6.5 trillion electron volts of energy at each other to help them find new particles that would lead to a better understanding of deeper laws.

The presentation of the new findings based on analysis of 400 trillion proton-proton collisions, if the particle turns out to be real, would be in summer 2016 when the physicists would gather in Chicago, according to Dr Joe Lykken, a member of one of the CERN teams and director of research at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago.

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