Skip Navigation

Duke Research - Z-prime search may hurdle Higgs hunt

Z-prime boson

August 24, 2011

Z-prime search may hurdle Higgs hunt

By Ashley Yeager

If you're bummed about humanity's biggest accelerator not producing a Higgs particle yet, maybe the latest effort to find a Z-prime will make you feel better.

The new results can't claim a discovery of this sub-atomic particle, a gauge boson. But Duke physicist Ashutosh Kotwal says his team is narrowing in on this less press-frenzied particle, which, if discovered, means our understanding of particle physics would need a few revisions.

Physicists have been looking for Z-prime just as they have the Higgs, by slamming fast-moving particles into each other at the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, in Europe.

Scientists are interested in predicted particles like Z-prime because they could fix holes in the current model, the Standard Model, that explains particle physics.

One of the biggest holes of the model is its inability to explain the origin of mass. The Higgs boson is supposed to correct this, but there are other problems, such as why neutrinos oscillate, why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe or where dark matter and dark energy originate.

Discovering new particles, like the Z-prime, could answer these questions, Kotwal says.

In April, scientists using Fermi Lab's Tevatron accelerator in Illinois reported possible signs of a Z-prime particle and with it, new forces of nature, but the physics community was cautious to claim discovery.

A few months later, Kotwal's team published data from LHC that did not find a Z-prime, despite working in similar energy levels as the U.S.-based accelerator.

Now, LHC is "far and away" more sensitive than the Tevatron, and by Christmas, the European collider will have produced four times more data in a range of energies and masses where Z-prime could be, Kotwal says. His team's latest LHC data has been submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters.

Kotwal adds that Z-prime particles also appear to behave similarly to gravitons, the hypothetical particles that could provide a quantum explanation for gravity. Any progress made in narrowing the mass and energy range where Z-primes sit will bring physicists closer to finding gravitons and possibly unifying the four fundamental forces of nature.

Of course, LHC has much more data to collect, and while hopes for a Higgs have been pushed back to the end of 2012, a Z-prime particle could pop into the data early next year, Kotwal says.

Posted by ay37. 2 comments

Tags: physics, research

SEARCH FOR THE GRAVITON

THEORY OF EVERYTHING

Researchers assume they can trust their GUT –
that is their Grand Unified Theory.
This simple answer is close, they think, but
the resolution’s still a bit bleary.

They’ve linked electromagnetic with weak,
on their way to full unification
but, for final culmination, must seek
the gravity of the situation.

They trust they’ll find the graviton one day,
through their particle acceleration.
Without this carrier to show the way,
they’re lacking complete illumination.

And thus they hesitate to claim they know,
since, still in the dark, they may stub their TOE.

QUANTUM QUERIES

FEARFUL SYMMETRY (from Songs Of Experiments)
-- James Ph. Kotsybar

Beyond notice, out of sight
in dimensions curled up tight,
shall only weakened gravity
suggest your supersymmetry?

Do you match, sine qua non,
boson to a fermion?
Will you ever edify
how the forces unify?

In what quanta, small or large
will we find your mass and charge?
In what membranes do you roam?
Which dimensions call you home?

In magnetic chambers narrow,
will you tell us of time’s arrow?
Have you broken, in the past?
How long do your components last?

Quarks from gluons will divide
when we make hadrons collide:
Will this show us where you hide
or leave us still unsatisfied?

Beyond notice, out of site
in dimensions curled up tight,
will only highest energy
reveal your supersymmetry?

(apologies to William Blake)

subscribe

Keep me posted on research news. Learn more >>

RSS iconRSS

All fields required